Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Free Speech

Even Justice Antonin Scalia believes that Political Activity is protected by First Amendment

In the case of the R-71 Petition Signers being argued today by Atty General Rob McKenna at the Supreme Court, Judge Antonin Scalia pointedly defended free speech. Here is a quote from his response, reprinted from and article today in Publicola by Josh Feit.

Declaring that the rough-and-tumble of democracy is not for the faint-hearted, what Scalia referred to as the “touchy, feely” sensitivity of some political activists, the Justice said “you can’t run a democracy” with political activity behind a First Amendment shroud.  “You are asking us to enter into a whole new field,” Scalia told James Bopp Jr., the lawyer for Washington State signers of an anti-gay rights petition.  Politics, the Justice went on, “takes a certain amount of civic courage.  The First Amendment does not protect you from civic discourse — or even from nasty phone calls.”
“A petition-signer,” he said, “is taking part in the legislative process.”  He suggested that there was no court case holding that the First Amendment shields “activity that consists of the process of legislation.”  In fact, Scalia said, “for the first century of our existence” even casting a ballot was done in public, and ballots were of different colors so everyone could know how an individual had voted in a given contest.
It is certainly refreshing to hear him articulate this point of view in light of our Shoreline City Council's recent ban on Political Speech by or about candidates.

1 comment:

  1. Janet

    Thanks for posting this - it was an interesting read. I guess the religious right reasoning is not going to cut it here? I was a little surprised. Maybe it is only corporate interests that Tony is all about? Still open minded.