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Scalia: Despite contentious cases, justices on good terms

Scalia said when he writes tough opinions criticizing his fellow justices, he fully expects them to respond in full.


“The next day she’ll be zinging me” Scalia said, referring to his close friend on the high court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg. "It’s equal opportunity zingers."

Scalia often finds himself on the opposing end of key decisions from Ginsburg, a member of the court's liberal wing.

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Scalia sat down with MSNBC’s Pete Williams to promote his new book "Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts."

In the interview Scalia said that judges should decide the law impartially and separate the ideas being debated from their supporters.

“I care passionately about the ideas. I don’t translate that into hostility towards the people who are expounding those ideas. And if you cannot do the one without the other you ought to look for another job. It’s a very unhappy place if you're personally antagonistic to people whom you disagree with.” 

Later in the interview, Scalia addressed unconfirmed reports that Chief Justice John Roberts changed his opinion on the landmark ruling upholding the constitutionality of much of President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Without saying if Roberts had switched sides prior to drafting the decision, Scalia said that it is acceptable for justices to change sides before a ruling is issued. 

"It happens,” he said.

“I have not only done that,” Scalia said, “I have been assigned to write an opinion and have found that it wouldn’t write. And so have written it the other way, coming out the other way.”

What is important, Scalia continued, is that when the ruling is made the justice believes it to be the correct decision. 

“If at the time you release the opinion you think its wrong, that is wrong. It seams to me that at the time its released you have to believe in its correctness.”