What is it with New York University Law School and Supreme Court justices these days? Just last week, on Monday, April 4, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy graced NYU Law with his presence. And last night, on Tuesday, April 12, Justice Antonin Scalia visited NYU. Justice Scalia was on campus to be honored by the NYU Annual Survey of American Law, which is dedicating its 2005 issue to him.
As reported in the Washington Square News, during a question-and-answer period before the dedication ceremony, the Rock Star of One First Street was asked a rather inappropriate question. A UTR reader offers this eyewitness (or earwitness?) account:
as you already know, scalia was at nyu today. in case you haven't yet heard, someone actually had the gall to ask him during a packed question and answer session whether or not he sodomizes his wife!! it was the singularly most shocking event i have witnessed. the question was asked in connection with his contention in lawrence v. texas that the government can regulate private sexual behavior.
After A3G requested details concerning how Justice Scalia and the crowd reacted to the "do you sodomize your wife" inquiry, her loyal correspondent offered further information:
There was this loud collective gasp from the audience, and for about 5 seconds Scalia stared at the questioner - I wasn't sure whether he was in shock like the rest of us, or whether he was going to come down from the podium and throttle the guy. He finally got a hold of himself and said he wasn't going to answer that and tried to move on to the next question, but for about 30 seconds the guy kept on badgering him and Scalia kept on trying to move to the next question, which he finally did.
To Scalia's great credit, he took another half hour of questions, and was cut off by the moderator when the session was scheduled to end, despite his attempting to take even more questions from people. The most disgraceful part about the whole incident is that the dean of the law school didn't cut the guy off, or admonish him, or apologize to Scalia.
After the whole thing was over, every single conversation taking place was focused on the lack of respect and how unseemly the whole thing was.
This is all really quite disgraceful. The questioner would perhaps defend his question as a form of political protest (or maybe as a work of performance art). But the inquiry strikes A3G as absolutely horrific, butt-clenchingly mortifying, and ample proof that there is such a thing as "too much information," even when it comes to justices of the Supreme Court.
Now, A3G knows what you're thinking. As the proprietress of a federal judicial gossip blog, A3G likes to get "under the robes" of Article III judges as much as -- if not more than -- the next gal. So some of you might be thinking, "A3G, where do you get off criticizing someone for going too far into a federal judge's private life? Isn't an unseemly interest in the bedroom practices of the justices just a natural extension of the UTR 'philosophy'?"
Well, even Article III Groupie has some modicum of shame. A line must be drawn somewhere -- especially when you're interacting with a Supreme Court justice in the flesh. Although UTR focuses on federal judges as people, it does so with some sense of boundaries and tact (or so A3G likes to think). Indeed, A3G regularly receives rumors and information for her blog that she declines to publish, based on the exercise of her discretion and common sense (and her desire not to be sued).
A3G has little interest in getting mired in an extended debate over "how far is too far" when it comes to the personal lives of federal judges. And she refuses to accept "blame" for somehow encouraging this type of conduct, through her running of a blog about the federal judiciary's more personal side. People who insist on being rude to federal judges in public will do so regardless of whether UTR exists.
Suffice it to say: Just because the boundaries set by good taste are somewhat subjective does not mean they're non-existent. To paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart on pornography, when it comes to tastelessness, A3G "knows it when she sees it." And this is it.