Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave a wide-ranging interview to New York magazine, covering everything from the justice's love of "Duck Dynasty" to his historical legacy. And guess what? Scalia doesn't care what history says about him, 50 years from now. "You know, for all I know, 50 years from now I may be the Justice Sutherland of the late-twentieth and early-21st century," Scalia told the magazine, adding, "'He was on the losing side of everything, an old fogey, the old view.' And I don’t care."
While Scalia's not the only Supreme Court justice giving interviews lately, the sprawling Q and A with New York's Jennifer Senior published on Sunday has to be one of the most thoroughly animated interviews with a justice in recent memory. Among the topics addressed is the justice's stance on homosexuality — a subject on which he regularly makes headlines. Senior asks Scalia what his personal experience is with the cultural "sea change" on gay rights. His reply: "I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual. Everybody does." When asked whether any had come out to him, he adds, "No. No. Not that I know of."
The conservative justice talks about his reading habits, which no longer include the Washington Post. That's because, he says, "they lost subscriptions partly because they became so shrilly, shrilly liberal." Now, he reads the The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times. That, and a lot of talk radio — Scalia's favorite program is hosted by his friend, Bill Bennett.
For better or for worse, Scalia also pretty much nails the absurdity of State of the Union addresses. The justice, who hasn't gone to a State of the Union in 16 years, has previously used the phrase "childish spectacle" to describe the whole affair:
"it is a childish spectacle. 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 the interview doesn't stop there. Scalia talks about his poker habit with Senior, who says that Scalia seems like the sort of person who wouldn't be great at poker. The following exchange happens in response:
Scalia: Shame on you! I’m a damn good poker player
Senior: But aren’t you the kind of guy who always puts all of his cards on the table? I feel like you would be the worst bluffer ever.
Scalia: You can talk to the people in my poker set.
Senior: Do you have a tell?
Senior: A tell.
Scalia: What’s a tell?
Senior: What’s a tell? Are you joking?
Senior: A tic or behavior that betrays you’re bluffing.
Scalia: Oh! That’s called a tell? No. I never … do you play poker?
The whole thing is worth a read, but we've extracted a few of the personality-laden highlights below.
On what's wrong with modern society:
One of the things that upsets me about modern society is the coarseness of manners. You can’t go to a movie—or watch a television show for that matter—without hearing the constant use of the F-word—including, you know, ladies using it. People that I know don’t talk like that! But if you portray it a lot, the society’s going to become that way. It’s very sad.
On the Devil (after a long conversation about Catholic doctrine):
Senior: Can we talk about your drafting process—
Scalia: [Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.
Senior: You do?
Scalia: Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.
Senior: Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
Scalia: If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.
Senior: Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
Scalia: You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.
Scalia: It’s because he’s smart.
On "Duck Dynasty:"
Senior: I know you watched the show 24. Do you also watch Homeland?
Scalia: I don’t watch Homeland. I don’t even know what Homeland is. I watched one episode of—what is it? Duck Dynasty?
Scalia: I don’t watch it regularly, but I’m a hunter. I use duck calls.