March 13, 2012

Controversial US Justice Scalia speaks at Wesleyan University

WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY–On Thursday, Mar. 8, Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivered a speech at Wesleyan U. as part of the 21st Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression. Justice Scalia’s lecture, which was entitled “The Originalist Approach to the First Amendment,” was attended by about 550 people, including students, parents, alumni, and Middletown residents. Hundreds more watched the lecture from other sites around campus through a closed-circuit video feed. His appearance on campus was met with protests organized by University students and other Connecticut activists. The event began with President Michael Roth introducing Justice Scalia to the crowd. During his talk, Scalia argued that originalism, which advocates basing court rulings on the original intent and language of the Constitution, was the best method to determine all court cases. According to Scalia, any other form of judicial interpretation would result in a judge politicking from the bench. “The reality is that originalism is the only game in town,” Scalia said. “The only real, verifiable criteria that prevents judges from making the constitution [say] whatever they think it should say. Show Scalia the original meaning and he is prevented from imposing his nasty conservative views upon the people. He is handcuffed.” Prior to the lecture, approximately 40 students and members of Occupy Connecticut gathered outside the Chapel and engaged in a protest that was informally referred to as both Occupy Scalia and the Scalia Welcoming Committee. These protesters carried signs, distributed literature on Scalia to people waiting for admittance to the lecture, and chanted several different slogans, including “legacy of blood and war, what’d you make George president for,” “money is not free speech,” and “the people united will never be defeated, citizens united will be defeated.” According to several protesters, Public Safety had announced that any protesters unaffiliated with the University could be subject to arrest. However, student protesters said that after they stated that all non-University protesters were their guests, there were no attempts to make arrests.
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