Scalia bemoans 'nasty time' in Washington

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said it is a “nasty time” in Washington, when many of the social interactions between Democrats and Republicans have ceased. 

On the opening day of the Supreme Court session, New York magazine published a wide-ranging interview with the conservative justice. 

“It’s a nasty time,” he said. “It’s a nasty time. When I was first in Washington, and even in my early years on this Court, I used to go to a lot of dinner parties at which there were people from both sides: Democrats, Republicans.” 

He added, “It doesn’t happen anymore.”

When asked about the last time he attended a gathering with a healthy dose of both parties, he said, “Geez, I can’t even remember. It’s been a long time.”

Scalia also expanded on his preference not to attend State of the Union addresses, calling the whole process “childish.” He said he has not attended one in nearly 15 years, noting that other former justices like John Paul Stevens and William Rehnquist also skipped them. 

“It is a childish spectacle,” he said. “And we are trucked in just to give some dignity to the occasion. I mean, there are all these punch lines, and one side jumps up, Hooray! And they all cheer, and then another punch line, and the others stand up, Hooray! It is juvenile! And we have to sit there like bumps on a log. We can clap if somebody says, 'The United States is the greatest country in the world.' Yay! But anything else, we have to look to the chief justice. Gee, is the chief gonna clap? It didn’t used to be that bad.”

He said President Reagan was probably the first to make the speech a "television spectacle."

Scalia said he regularly reads the The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times. He said he used to read The Washington Post, but does not anymore, calling it “slanted and nasty.”

“I think they lost subscriptions partly because they became so shrilly, shrilly liberal,” he said. 

When asked if the media landscape — where conservatives and liberals can consume news with an ideology they agree with — has also contributed to the nastiness in Washington, Scalia disagreed.  

“Oh, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon!” he said. “Social intercourse is quite different from those intellectual outlets I respect and those that I don’t respect.”

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