Justice Scalia comes to town 

Tries not to be noticed.

A man known for the forceful expression of opinion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was oddly shy about media coverage of his appearance Friday at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Possibly, he has only one speech and is striving to keep it fresh. At any rate, the speech he gave at UALR, the first in a new lecture series at the law school, and given, Scalia said, in memory of the late Judge Richard S. Arnold of Little Rock, was the same one he’d given a couple of nights earlier at Harvard Law School, where he and Arnold were once classmates. Scalia spoke at 5 p.m. Friday to an invited audience that included members of the Arnold family, state and federal judges, university presidents, prominent lawyers and U.S. attorneys. At Scalia’s request, according to UALR communications director Amy Oliver Barnes, neither videotaping nor audiotaping of the speech for later broadcast was allowed. That meant no TV cameras in the auditorium; the only tape recorders allowed were those used by print reporters for note-taking purposes. There were no still cameras, either. Barnes said UALR decided that if TV cameras were to be banned, newspaper cameras should be disallowed as well. Earlier in the day, Scalia had spoken to UALR students. The law school dean, Charles W. Goldner Jr., said in an e-mail to students on Wednesday, Sept. 29, that the large guest list for the evening lecture precluded student attendance. He said Scalia had agreed to a session for students and faculty only, at which the justice would make remarks and then answer questions. "This opportunity to interact with Justice Scalia is definitely superior to the lecture that evening, as in the evening there will be no audience questions and discussion; it will be a straight lecture," Goldner wrote. "Your opportunity to hear Justice Scalia and engage in conversation with him is certainly going to be unique during your time at this school, and for many of you will probably be the only opportunity you have in your lifetime." No media of any kind were allowed at the student session. Barnes said it was considered a classroom event, and the media were not generally admitted to the classroom at UALR. After the evening lecture, Scalia attended a reception in his honor. Cameras were permitted. That’s when the Arkansas Times got its photographs. Some at the law school, and some guests, were disturbed about the restrictions imposed by Scalia and the school. A student wrote to the Times about the ban on taping, "Why is a law school, of all places, going along with what seems to be wrongful by not allowing the public — which finances the law school — to hear the speeches?" Rick Peltz, an associate professor who teaches First Amendment law, said he was disappointed by the ban on taping. "I’m a big fan of his jurisprudence, but I’m also a fan of access," Peltz said. "I don’t understand why he has this policy. I would like to have seen us publish a lecture by him in our journal on the appellate judiciary. But the restrictions apply to us too." Peltz and others agreed that neither the Arkansas Freedom of Information law nor the federal FOI would apply to the situation. The Arkansas law applies to meetings of government bodies and disclosure of public documents. The federal FOI exempts the judiciary. At Harvard (a speech that was reported in the Harvard Crimson) and at Little Rock, Scalia deplored what he said was the tendency of judges to rule on issues that should be left to the people to decide, as the right of women to vote was decided by constitutional amendment. There are no scientific "right answers" for questions involving abortion, suicide, gay marriage and the teaching of evolution, he said, and even if there were, "There is no reason to believe that judges could find them. … It is blindingly clear that judges have no greater capacity than the rest of us to decide what is moral." Scalia said he was unhappy about the intrusion of politics into the judicial appointment process, a development he blamed on Democrats, who, he said, were blocking the appointment of any judge they believed wouldn’t uphold the Roe v. Wade abortion decision. But he said that even the intrusion of politics was better than "government by judicial aristocracy." Scalia was not paid for the speech, but he was reimbursed for travel expenses. Not long ago, U.S. marshals confiscated tapes from reporters at a Scalia speech. Apparently it was after that incident, and the ensuing outcry, that he decided to allow taping for note-taking. At a Scalia speech in Hattiesburg, Miss., in April, a U.S. deputy marshal seized tape recordings of the speech from two journalists. Scalia then wrote letters of apology to the journalists, and changed his policy to allow taping for notes. He is the only justice who prohibits taping for broadcast.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

  • Lundstrum pushes ahead on efforts to limit minimum wage hike

    Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs), despite opposition from Governor Hutchinson and the state Republican Party, is proceeding with her bills to undo significant portions of the state minimum wage hike approved by voters just last November.
    • Mar 18, 2019
  • Doris Wright has a 'charge to keep' in Ward 6

    Doris Wright, in her 13 years on the city board of directors, has defined herself as a champion of life in West Central Little Rock. She has played a major role in bringing the Central Arkansas Library System’s Sidney S. McMath branch to Ward 6, and with her advocacy, the city built the $6.4 million West Central Community Center and the 25-acre West Central Sports Complex.
    • Mar 4, 2019
  • Young adults ‘aging out’ of Arkansas foster care system struggle to adapt

    Because it’s uncommon for older teenagers in foster care to be adopted, many are emancipated at age 18 or 21 without ever finding a permanent home. In the last state fiscal year, 235 young people “aged out” of the Arkansas system. Too old to be a ward of the state but unprepared to be cast out on their own, they entered adult life highly disadvantaged.
    • Feb 23, 2019
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Lundstrum pushes ahead on efforts to limit minimum wage hike

    Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs), despite opposition from Governor Hutchinson and the state Republican Party, is proceeding with her bills to undo significant portions of the state minimum wage hike approved by voters just last November.

Most Recent Comments


© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation