U.S. Supreme Court
Scalia Chastises Student for ‘Nasty, Impolite Question’ on Court Cameras
Posted Feb 4, 2009 3:00 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Updated: A 20-year-old student got an icy retort from Justice Antonin Scalia on Tuesday when she asked why cameras are not permitted in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sarah Jeck, a political science student at Florida Atlantic University, asked about cameras during a question-and-answer session at a luncheon in West Palm Beach, Fla., that was partly a promotion for Scalia’s recent book, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Jeck asked why cameras are banned, even though court hearings are open, transcripts are provided and justices “go out on book tours.”
"Read the next question," Scalia replied, according to the Sun-Sentinel account. "That's a nasty, impolite question."
Scalia is on tour to promote his book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.
Later, Scalia returned to Jeck’s question, according to the Palm Beach Post. Scalia said he favored courtroom cameras at the time of his appointment in 1986. But he came to believe that "most people will only see 30-second takeouts" that would not give a true impression of oral arguments, the story says.
"Why should I be a party to the miseducation of the American people?" Scalia added.
The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times tracked down Jeck for an interview and reports she "seemed a little stunned, but not cowed" by Scalia's reaction to her question.
"He can dish it out, but he can't take it, I guess," she told Legal Times. She is writing about cameras in the courts in her judicial process class and has plans to go to law school.
She did not buy Scalia's book. "I'm a college student. I don't have $30," she told Legal Times.
CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen was more forceful than Jeck in condemning Scalia's response. "Whatever you think about Scalia’s jurisprudence, his bully routine is getting old,” Cohen wrote at CBSNews.com. "Scalia wants the publicity, he wants your money, you pay his salary, he’s a public servant, but don’t you dare ask him any pertinent questions."
More on Scalia and his book:
ABA Journal: "Making Your Case"
ABA Journal: "A Voice for the Write"
Last updated Feb. 5 to include the Andrew Cohen opinion column.