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Frank: Scalia is a ‘homophobe’

barneyfrankRep. Barney Frank, the outspoken Massachusetts lawmaker who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, called U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a “homophobe” during a recent interview about gay rights issues.

Frank, who is gay, was interviewed by the news website 365gay.com. In the video interview, available on the website, Frank was asked about of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages and gives states the right not to recognize gay marriages even if legal in another state. Frank said the only way to end the law would be through a constitutional challenge before the nation’s highest court.

scalia1“I do think that [the] argument that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to pick and choose as to which marriages it will accept is a good one,” Frank said. “At some point it’s got to go to the United States Supreme Court.

“I wouldn’t want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now,” Frank added, “because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has got too many votes on this current Court.”

According to he Associated Press, Scalia declined to comment to Frank’s remark Monday.

Frank: Scalia is a ‘homophobe’

barneyfrankRep. Barney Frank, the outspoken Massachusetts lawmaker who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, called U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a “homophobe” during a recent interview about gay rights issues.

Frank, who is gay, was interviewed by the news website 365gay.com. In the video interview, available on the website, Frank was asked about of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages and gives states the right not to recognize gay marriages even if legal in another state. Frank said the only way to end the law would be through a constitutional challenge before the nation’s highest court.

scalia1“I do think that [the] argument that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to pick and choose as to which marriages it will accept is a good one,” Frank said. “At some point it’s got to go to the United States Supreme Court.

“I wouldn’t want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now,” Frank added, “because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has got too many votes on this current Court.”

According to he Associated Press, Scalia declined to comment to Frank’s remark Monday.

Scalia: Thomas should talk

scaliawaveAdd Justice Antonin Scalia to the list of people who are puzzled by Justice Clarence Thomas’ refusal to participate in Supreme Court oral arguments.

At an appearance this week at Pepperdine School of Law, Scalia noted that oral arguments serve an important role, and Thomas would benefit himself and the other justices by speaking up, according to an account by attorney Benjamin Shatz posted on En Banc, the blog of the Los Angeles County Bar. thomas2Thomas, as DC Dicta readers know, hasn’t asked a question during the Court’s oral hearings since Feb. 22, 2006.

Without active questioning by the justices, lawyers arguing before the Court simply “regurgitate their ‘blessed’ briefs,” Scalia said, according to Shatz. Since the justices have already read the briefs, Scalia said, such recitation is like listening to a book on tape after reading the book, Shatz wrote.

During the Pepperdine talk, Scalia also lamented that federal judgeships aren’t as prestigious as they used to be. Federal judges used to be the best of the best – the “knights of the bar” – but now federal benches are made up mostly of career government people who have “had their snouts in the public trough their whole lives.”

And despite being known for his keen legal mind, his wife calls him “Mr. Clueless,” according to the blog post.

Scalia also noted that when it comes to the Court’s opinions, it is “always better to be in the majority, except when the majority is wrong.” But later at Town Hall Los Angeles event, he said dissents allow him to cut loose.

“Dissents are more fun,” Scalia said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “You’re writing for yourself. You can really let it rip.”

[HT: ABA Journal]

Supreme birthday celebration

scaliabigWe already know a little bit about how birthdays are celebrated by the justices of the Supreme Court – Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. raises a glass to toast the honoree, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg brings in a cake baked by her husband, and Justice Antonin Scalia sings Happy Birthday.

“He is the only one who can carry a tune,” Ginsburg said once during a speech at Princeton University.

Well, we’re not sure who will do the singing this time, but today Justice Scalia is the birthday boy. He turns 73.

UPDATED: The Funniest Justice, week 10

scaliahands

UPDATE: The argument transcript for Dean v. U.S. is up (much thanks to the Court’s press office for the heads up!) and the laugh tally has been updated. Justice Scalia still holds an six-laugh lead, but he and Justice Breyer each earned an additional laugh.

“You want to talk about what’s a sensible system and what is not a sensible system,” Justice Antonin Scalia said during Monday’s oral arguments in Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend. “In Massachusetts, [when] I was in law school, they had a compensation limit for wrongful death, but no limit for pain and suffering, for negligence. And the line was: ‘Back her up again! Back her up again, Sam, she’s not quite dead yet!'”

Those words drew one of three laughs Scalia got from the courtroom crowd this week, helping him maintain his six-laugh lead over Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. in the quest to be this term’s Funniest Justice.

Please note that this week we must add an asterisk of sorts to the totals, because they are based on the Court’s transcripts, but the record of yesterday’s arguments in Dean v. U.S. is not yet available on the Court’s website. When the record is available, those laughs will be included in the week 11 tally.

In the meantime, here are the laugh standings based on available Court transcripts:

Justice Antonin Scalia: 33 34

Justice Stephen Breyer: 27 28

Chief Justice John Roberts: 25

Justice David Souter: 11

Justice Anthony Kennedy: 10

Justice John Paul Stevens: 9

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 4

Justice Samuel Alito: 2

Justice Clarence Thomas: 0 (Thomas hasn’t made a remark during oral arguments since Feb. 22, 2006, but he often laughed right along with the audience during this week’s funnies).

In First Amendment ruling, Scalia kills two clauses with one stone

Today the Supreme Court ruled that a permanent monument erected in a public park is a form of governmental speech, and is therefore not subject to scrutiny under the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.

10commThe closely-watched case Pleasant Grove City v. Summum involved a bid by the religious group Summum to erect a monument containing the Seven Aphorisms of Summum in a Utah park where several other monuments, including one bearing the Ten Commandments, stood. When the town denied the groups’ request, the group launched a First Amendment action.

But the Court – in a decision that was unanimous, yet fractured with concurrences citing different legal justifications for the outcome – ruled in favor of the town. In an opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., the Court found that the process municipalities take in deciding which monuments are to be erected in public parks shows that it is government speech, and therefore not subject to Free Speech challenges.

Reading the decision, it occurred to DC Dicta that the town may have traded one battle for another: if the Ten Commandments monument is government speech, does it run afoul of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?

scalia1In a concurrence, Justice Antonin Scalia says emphatically: “No.”

“The city ought not fear that today’s victory has propelled it from the Free Speech Clause frying pan into the Establishment Clause fire,” Scalia wrote in the concurrence in which Justice Clarence Thomas joined. “Contrary to respondent’s intimations, there are very good reasons to be confident that the park displays do not violate any part of the First Amendment.”

Scalia cited a 2005 case in which the Court rejected a similar claim brought in connection with another Ten Commandments monument deemed to be government speech.

“The city can safety exhale,” Scalia wrote. “Its residents and visitors can now return to enjoying Pioneer Park’s wishing well, its historic granary-and, yes, even its Ten Commandments monument-without fear that they are complicit in an establishment of religion.”

Today the Court also ruled in the case Pacific Bell Telephone Co. v. LinkLine Communications that a price-squeeze claim may not be brought under §2 of the Sherman Act when the defendant has no antitrust duty to deal with the plaintiff at wholesale.

Friday morning docket: Depressing news edition

blsToday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in January, more jobs were cut than in any one-month period since 1974. The news comes as the president and congressional lawmakers continue to try hash out their differences over an economic stimulus package. The Supreme Court continues its summer recess, which gives Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg some extra recovery time after yesterday’s pancreatic cancer surgery.

Meanwhile,

Ginsburg surgery reignites rumor mill: As Ginsburg recovers, speculation is swirling over whether President Barack Obama may be faced with the task of selecting a U.S. Supreme Court justice early in his tenure. (Lawyers USA)

Another taxing issue: A Senate panel postponed a vote on President Obama’s nomination of Representative Hilda L. Solis as labor secretary, after questions were raised about tax liens against her husband’s business. (AP)

Do not pass Go, Do not collect $200: Sen. Patrick Leahy wants food producers responsible for widespread, deadly outbreaks of disease should go to jail. (AP).

O’Connor back on the job: Retirement, schmretirement. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was on a panel of judges hearing oral argument in three cases pending before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Tulane Law School Tuesday. (The New Orleans Times-Picayune)

scalia1Nino the Bully? CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen thinks Justice Antonin Scalia, who this week derided a college student for asking him a “nasty, impolite question,” should stop being such a bully. (CBS News)

Scalia scoffs at student’s ‘nasty’ question

Attorneys arguing before the Supreme Court know to choose their words carefully, or face the possible wrath of the justices. That rule apparently extends beyond justices’ courtroom.

scaliasideTuesday, Justice Antonin Scalia spoke to a crowd of about 750 in West Palm Beach, Fla., continuing his tour of the nation to talk about his recent book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges. At the event, according to The Palm Beach Post, a Florida Atlantic University student asked Scalia if his opposition to televising Supreme Court oral arguments was “vitiated” in part by justices speaking in public forums and “going out on book tours.”

Sarah Jeck’s question drew cheers and laughter from the crowd. Scalia, however, was not amused.

“Read the next question,” Scalia replied. “That’s a nasty, impolite question.”

After taking a few other questions, Scalia did go back to Jeck’s query, saying that he initially supported the idea of cameras in the courtroom, but later came to change his mind because “most people will only see 30-second takeouts” in news reports, and that would distort the true nature of the arguments.

“Why should I be a party to the miseducation of the American people?” Scalia said.

Legal Times‘ Tony Mauro talked to Jeck by phone afterwards. She said the experience didn’t change her plans to go to law school.

Scalia scoffs at student’s ‘nasty’ question

Attorneys arguing before the Supreme Court know to choose their words carefully, or face the possible wrath of the justices. That rule apparently extends beyond justices’ courtroom.

scaliasideTuesday, Justice Antonin Scalia spoke to a crowd of about 750 in West Palm Beach, Fla., continuing his tour of the nation to talk about his recent book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges. At the event, according to The Palm Beach Post, a Florida Atlantic University student asked Scalia if his opposition to televising Supreme Court oral arguments was “vitiated” in part by justices speaking in public forums and “going out on book tours.”

Sarah Jeck’s question drew cheers and laughter from the crowd. Scalia, however, was not amused.

“Read the next question,” Scalia replied. “That’s a nasty, impolite question.”

After taking a few other questions, Scalia did go back to Jeck’s query, saying that he initially supported the idea of cameras in the courtroom, but later came to change his mind because “most people will only see 30-second takeouts” in news reports, and that would distort the true nature of the arguments.

“Why should I be a party to the miseducation of the American people?” Scalia said.

Legal Times‘ Tony Mauro talked to Jeck by phone afterwards. She said the experience didn’t change her plans to go to law school.

The funniest justice, week 8: When the whole world laughed

cjrobertsThere was only one day of oral arguments at the Supreme Court this week. And the three cases heard yesterday did not provide much opportunity for laughter in the courtroom (that is, aside from the laughter in the press gallery as reporters rehashed the presidential oath flub heard around the world).

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. did manage to make the crowd laugh once inside the courtroom. While some court watchers were expecting him to make some sort of self-effacing comment regarding the trouble he had with President Barack Obama’s oath Tuesday – Roberts does, after all, have a pretty good sense of humor – he made no reference to it at all. (Legal Times’ Tony Mauro thinks he may have heard something in the way Roberts pronounced the word “clerk.” DC Dicta didn’t catch that, but we always defer to Tony’s ear, being the astute reporter that he is.)

Justice Stephen Breyer was the only other justice to get a laugh, which creates a real three-way contest in the quest to be the Funniest Justice of the term. Usually Justice Antonin Scalia runs away with it by now, but Nino better think of some funny quips quickly if he wants to stay in top.

Here are the laugh standings after eight weeks of oral arguments:

Justice Antonin Scalia: 29

Justice Stephen Breyer: 22

Chief Justice John Roberts: 20 (Not counting the laughs he may have received Tuesday)

Justice David Souter: 9

Justice Anthony Kennedy: 9

Justice John Paul Stevens: 6

Justice Samuel Alito: 2

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 1

Justice Clarence Thomas: 0 (Thomas hasn’t made a remark during oral arguments since Feb. 22, 2006).