The justice in the duck blind |

The justice in the duck blind

Matt Zalaznick

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia really knows how to hammer home a point. During a speech on the Constitution to high school students last Wednesday, a federal marshal erased two journalists’ tapes of his talk because this Supreme doesn’t like to be recorded.

So while this noted duck hunter was teaching America’s children about the very foundation of freedom, he was manhandling the American people by intimidating their journalists.

But maybe it’s the press’ fault that his honor has soured on media coverage. After all, we dared to question the judge’s judgment in flying down south to shoot birds with the vice president, who has a case pending before the Supreme Court on – ironically – the public’s right to know, in this case about the country’s plans to keep our lights on and our Hummers guzzling gas.

The jurist has since made a flimsy, week or so late apology for not quite quashing freedom of speech. After all, he didn’t have the marshal bounce the reporters from his appearance. But ordering a cop to wrong the reporters’ inalienable rights is the latest example of a metastasizing personality cult of astounding arrogance emanating from the president, the most visible members of his quixotically credible administration and its ideological Sancho Panzas.

While W. is wisecracking about the windmills of mass destruction Rummy, Wolfie and Condi built for him in Iraq, all dissent on the home front has been vilified. And borrowing from our festering foreign policy, Justice T., with all the bluster of Tony Soprano in a temper, appears to have gone pre-emptive.

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Erase the tapes, flush the reporters from their cozy perches, choke off the source of all unflattering information and there won’t be anymore quacking press reports questioning your congressionally confirmed integrity.

In other words, stay in the duck blind where you can say anything you want behind America’s back and keep your scope trained on any criticism rising from the marshes.

That the American people haven’t been more disappointed with this surly behavior is discouraging. But voters should carefully consider who they’re voting for in November because W. may very well make Don’t-Tape-Me-Tony the chief justice.

And even more alarming, that empty seat on the bench and any others that become vacant may be filled with one or two of the religious legal zealots with which W.’s currently filling the benches of the country’s federal courts.

Tony “Scales” of Justice actually acted offended – he fired off 20-plus pages of hurt feelings – when it was suggested he should not take part in the lawsuit against his wildlife-whacking buddy’s secret sit downs with the energy industry.

The marshal’s office, meanwhile, is defending its agent’s incursion against the two reporters at the high school, only saying that the harassment would have gone more smoothly had the reporters been told before the speech the judge doesn’t like to be recorded.

Eventually, this media-bugged judge may have to opine on the Patriot Act, which lets law enforcement, including the U.S. Marshals Service, bug anybody they want. Given his antipathy to tapes, maybe the Justice Department to ask him to step aside on that case, too.

Matt Zalaznick is the assistant editor for local news. He can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or

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