Across the Twitterverse, people are ... atwitter about Justice Antonin Scalia's upcoming appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight.
After all the Supreme Court scuttlebutt following Jan Crawford's article about Chief Justice John Roberts' Affordable Care Act switch, some may be hoping that Nino will pull back the curtain on the Court's individual mandate drama.
Justice Scalia is appearing on the show with Professor Bryan A. Garner, the co-author of his new book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.
(Full disclosure: Reading Law is a West publication; West and FindLaw are both Thomson Reuters businesses.)
This isn't Justice Scalia's first literary venture with Professor Garner. In May 2008, the pair released Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, and in April 2008, Justice Scalia gave his first major network television interview to 60 Minutes.
In other words, Justice Scalia knows how to promote a book.
But is it appropriate for a sitting justice to appear on a talk show?
Sitting Supreme Court justices don't do many television appearances, but they also don't strictly avoid television. To wit:
- In 2009, C-SPAN ran a documentary called The Supreme Court: Home To America's Highest Court, which included interviews with 11 sitting and retired justices.
- In February 2012, Justice Sonia Sotomayor worked her judicial magic to resolve a spat between Baby Bear and Goldilocks on Sesame Street.
- C-SPAN 2's BOOKTV aired a Brookings Institute discussion with Justice Stephen Breyer in 2005 about his book, Active Liberty.
- Justices' remarks at public events are often broadcast on C-SPAN or online though websites like FORA.tv.
After retiring from the bench, a justice has even broader options for television appearances. For example, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor appeared on Good Morning America in 2010 to discuss her civics education website, and Justice John Paul Stephens took on Stephen Colbert's Super PAC in January on The Colbert Report. (There's no word on whether Justice Stevens' Five Chiefs book sales were rewarded with a Colbert bump.)
It's amusing that, in a time when the public is demanding greater access to the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia is being criticized for going on TV. While the Nine tend to reserve appearances for C-SPAN, there's no rule or precedent barring Justice Scalia from appearing on Piers Morgan Tonight. You can catch the action tonight at 9 p.m. EST on CNN.
- A First Time for Everything: Supreme Court Summer Reading List (FindLaw's Supreme Court Blog)
- Intention and the Canons of Legal Interpretation (The New York Times)
- Senate Debates Cameras in Court Ahead of ACA Hearings (FindLaw's Supreme Court Blog)