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Scalia rejects privacy rights

Ordinarily, U.S. Supreme Court justices avoid television interviews, leaving the cameras for politicians. Justice Antonin Scalia apparently prefers a higher-profile approach.

Fresh off his widely-derided political antics towards the end of the court's last session, Scalia recently appeared on CNN, and just 10 days later, sat down with Chris Wallace on yesterday's edition of "Fox News Sunday."

The two covered a fair amount of ground, including Scalia's argument that there's "no way" the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate should be regarded "as a tax." (Those who can afford coverage but refuse to buy it pay a tax penalty on their tax returns.) They also touched on gun control, and Scalia's belief that firearms protected under the Second Amendment must be "hand-carried." He added, in reference to the law, "It's to keep and bear, so it doesn't apply to cannons."

What about "handheld rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes"? Scalia said it's unclear whether that's protected, and "it will have to be decided." I'll look forward to it.

But of particular interest to me was Scalia's opposition to privacy rights. Unprompted, the justice noted his opposition to reproductive rights, and it led to this exchange:

WALLACE: What about the right to privacy that the court found in known 1965?

SCALIA: There is no right to privacy. No generalized right to privacy.

WALLACE: Well, in the Griswold case, the court said there was.

SCALIA: Indeed it did, and that was -- that was wrong.

In case anyone needs a refresher on Griswold, the Supreme Court, in a 7-to-2 ruling in 1965, struck down a Connecticut law that restricted married couples' access to birth control. The court majority, in a landmark ruling, said such statutes are impermissible -- they violate Americans' right to privacy.

Yesterday's exchange didn't break new ground, but it was a noteworthy reminder that far-right jurists on the high court still have a problem with Griswold, even a half-century later.

For Scalia, if a state wants to restrict married couples' access to contraception, there are no rights afforded by the Constitution that say otherwise. "There is," he said, "no right to privacy."

It's a fanciful dream, but I'd love for this to be an issue in the 2012 presidential race.