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Hullabaloo


Sunday, March 23, 2014

 
Nino the statist

by digby

Well it looks like we know where Scalia stands on the NSA.

The topic of the NSA's controversial surveillance of telephone metadata came up during a laughter-filled Q&A between Scalia and Judge Andrew Napolitano, a faculty member at Brooklyn Law School and a close personal friend of the justice he accidentally called "Nino."

While suggesting that the high court will take up NSA surveillance, Scalia expressed his opinion that judges should not be deciding matters of national security.

"The Supreme Court doesn't know diddly about the nature and extent of the threat," Scalia said. Later on, he added, "It's truly stupid that my court is going to be the last word on it."

Right. That should be left to Generals and politicians to do in secret. That way we'll be sure to stay free.

Still, he hinted he would rule that NSA surveillance does not violate the Constitution if and when the issue comes before the Supreme Court. Although one judge has ruled the spying violates the Fourth Amendment, Scalia may disagree based on his strict interpretation of the Constitution.

The text of the Fourth Amendment bars unwarranted searches of "persons, houses, papers, and effects." But, as Scalia told the audience, "conversations are quite different" from all four of those things.

Hey, the constitution doesn't say anything about eavesdropping. If the founders had wanted that to be in there they would have put it in there. Next?

One astute law student said something, however, that may make Scalia reconsider his initial thinking on the constitutionality of the NSA's domestic surveillance. That student asked if data in a computer were considered "effects" under the Fourth Amendment, in an apparent reference to the NSA capturing communications over the Internet.

Scalia, visibly impressed by the question, said, "I better not answer that. That is something that may well come up [before the Supreme Court]."

Well, the constitution didn't say anything about computers either so I'm going to guess that's a non-starter.

I do think it's interesting that Scalia the "originalist" doesn't feel the Supreme Court can assess threats so it shouldn't have the last word on whether the government is violating the constitution. I wonder what the founders were going on about with all that Bill of Rights stuff then?

On the other hand, he feels perfectly competent to decide when human life begins and dictate when people are going to reproduce. Go figure.

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