Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia agreed to a public “conversation about civil liberties” with American Civil Liberties Union president Nadine Strossen at the ACLU’s “Stand Up For Freedom” conference in Washington on Oct. 16. NBC’s Pete Williams is to moderate.
Scalia, of course, doesn’t always see the world the way the ACLU does. In June 2005 case, in which the ACLU of Kentucky challenged county displays of the Ten Commandments, the court sided with the ACLU, but Scalia dissented. “The Court’s repeated assertion that the government cannot favor religious practice is false,” he wrote.
And in Hudson v. Michigan this year, Scalia wrote the majority opinion in a 5-4 vote decision that gave police more leeway to enter private homes. In this drug case, police failed to knock on Hudson’s door and waited only three to five seconds after announcing their presence to enter his home. The ACLU objected; the court did not. “Ominously,” the ACLU wrote in a review of the court’s term, “Justice Scalia’s majority opinion seemed to lay the groundwork for a broader attack on the exclusionary rule by questioning its continuing need as a deterrent to police misconduct.”
To be sure, in a 1989 case, Texas v. Johnson, Scalia sided with the ACLU and joined a 5-4 opinion by Justice William J. Brennan Jr. that struck down a law banning flag burning for violating the First Amendment. – David Wessel