Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, often extolled by conservative Republicans as their ideal model of a judge, said Monday the confirmation process was too politicized and that he wouldn’t want to experience it again.
When asked whether he thought he could be confirmed again by the Senate, Scalia said: “I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to go through it today, I’ll tell you that much.”
Scalia, who was confirmed by the Senate on 98-0 vote in 1986, was interviewed on NBC’s “Today” show. He was thought at one point to be a candidate for chief justice when William H. Rehnquist died. President Bush nominated John Roberts, who was confirmed by the Senate on a 78-22 vote last month.
Bush has said he would nominate Supreme Court justices in the mold of Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Several conservatives have complained that current Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers is not enough like Scalia and Thomas and are opposing her nomination.
Scalia said he will miss the retiring Sandra Day O’Connor, whom Miers wants to replace.
Calls O’Connor ‘glue of the court’
“If there was anybody that has been sort of the social glue of the court, it’s been Sandra, and I will miss her,” Scalia said.
On another issue, Scalia said he is adamantly opposed to televising Supreme Court sessions.
“We don’t want to become entertainment,” he said. “I think there’s something sick about making entertainment out of real people’s legal problems. I don’t like it in the lower courts, and I particularly don’t like it in the Supreme Court.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has introduced legislation in the Senate that would allow sessions of the high court to be televised. The court has allowed the audio recordings of sessions to be released, but it has refused to allow cameras into its hearing chamber.
Leads Columbus Day parade
Monday was a busy day for the associate justice. Nearly a half century after he marched in New York’s Columbus Day parade as a high school student, Scalia returned to his hometown to lead marchers up Fifth Avenue as the procession’s grand marshal.
Cheering spectators waving Italian flags and carrying banners stood six and seven deep along some sections of the route through midtown Manhattan.
Scalia, the first Italian-American to serve on the Supreme Court, marched in a brown suit and white sash and waved to the crowd while his wife, Maureen, followed in a gold Lamborghini.
Asked how the experience compared to his previous marches in the 1950s as a high schooler in Manhattan, Scalia joked, “I’m older now.”
“It’s a terrific day. It’s been a nice walk,” he said.
The thousands of spectators turned out in overcast but pleasantly mild weather to see police officers, firefighters, the Italian National Police Band and a number of high school bands troop through the city.