Gavel Grab

60 Minutes and More for Justice Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has not always enjoyed good relations with the media: he’s banned broadcast media and tape recorders from covering public speeches, and has little regard for their coverage: “The press is never going to report judicial opinions accurately,” he said in 2006.

When someone that public and powerful seeks such control, it means that it’s news when he decides to sit down with 60 Minutes, as he has done to promote his new book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.

In fact, the Scalia-in-control meme is only part of the truth. Throughout his career, he’s spent considerable time away from the bench talking to Americans about the law and how courts work. Chatting with him a couple of years ago after we appeared together on a Fred Friendly panel on state court elections, he told me that his outreach flowed from his early work as a law professor, where educating people was the whole point. (He frequently returned as a visiting professor at my alma mater, the University of Virginia.)

What to say in public is not a simple balance for a judge to strike (especially if they’re facing confirmation or election). And occasionally Justice Scalia has jumped into hot water with statements that have generated recusal requests. But the underlying impulse—to educate and engage more Americans in the work of their judicial system—is right on.

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