Scalia: Reports of tension ‘absurd’

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Wednesday dismissed reports of acrimony among the justices following the court’s healthcare ruling, and he said he’s not bothered by critics who say his dissent in the Arizona immigration case went too far.

In an interview with NPR, Scalia brushed off reports of bad blood in the wake of the healthcare ruling, in which Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s liberal justices to uphold President Obama’s healthcare law. Unnamed sources told CBS News that Roberts had switched his vote after initially voting to strike down the law’s individual mandate.

Personal tensions are running high among the justices, CBS said, and the leak itself was seen as a sign of anger somewhere in the court’s conservative bloc. Scalia waved off those suggestions.

"That's just not the way justices of the Supreme Court behave, going into pouts. I mean that — it's absurd," he told NPR. "If you can't disagree, even vehemently, on the law without taking it personally and getting angry at the person, you ought to look for another job." 


Scalia also said he has changed his mind “many, many times,” including one case in which he was assigned to write the opinion, but ended up switching sides.

He said that leaks from inside the court, which are rare, aren’t to be trusted.

“You shouldn't believe this stuff that you read in the press. It's either made up or comes from an unreliable source,” he said.

Scalia discussed the two high-profile cases in an interview with NPR's longtime Supreme Court correspondent, Nina Totenberg. Scalia, the court’s longest-serving justice, is promoting a new book.

Scalia is known for his strongly worded, sometimes bombastic opinions — usually dissents. Some congressional Democrats complained when Scalia did not tone down his normal tenor for arguments in the healthcare case, and he was widely criticized for his dissent in the case over Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

In the immigration case, Scalia wrote a scathing dissent that none of the other conservatives joined. He also took the unusual step of criticizing Obama’s recent immigration order, which was not part of the case before the court.

That criticism doesn’t bother him, either.

"That's why I'm life-tenured. I'm not supposed to be swayed by what would make people like me," he said. "That's not the job."