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July 19th, 2012
12:16 PM ET

Clips From Last Night: Justice Antonin Scalia on the confrontation clause, justice partisanship, and hunting with Dick Cheney

On Wednesday evening, Piers Morgan sat down with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in Washington D.C., for a rare and enlightening interview. Joined by Professor Bryan A. Garner, the co-author of the new book "Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts," Scalia discussed his interpretation of the confrontation clause.

As a "textualist" (also known as an "originalist,") Scalia believes that American law should "be based on the text of the Constitution, reasonably interpreted" and he applied that principle to the confrontation clause, brought up in the 1990 case of "Maryland v. Craig." The case involved a young girl who had been abused by a child molester and later testified through closed-circuit television.

Scalia argued that the procedure was "virtually constitutional" and not "actually constitutional" because the girl did not appear in court, and according to the constitutional clause, the abuser had a right to be face-to-face with his victim in the courtroom. "The confrontation clause, in some situations, does seem to be unnecessary," explained Scalia. "But there it is. And its meaning could not be clearer. You are entitled to be confronted with the witnesses against you."

"I do not always like the result," added Scalia, regarding his resolve to uphold the textual interpretation of the Constitution. "Very often, I think the result is terrible. But that's not my job. I'm not king. And I haven't been charged with making the Constitution come out right all the time."

Inviting the "Piers Morgan Tonight" host inside the Supreme Court, Scalia also talked about the criticism judges face for voting down a political line. "It offends me," said the Court's longest-serving justice, regarding accusations of partisanship.

"They [Supreme Court justices] are voting their politics, not because they are voting for the Republicans or voting for the Democrats. It's because they have been selected by the Republicans or selected by the Democrats precisely because of their judicial philosophy."

Charged with carrying the entire hour, Morgan and his guest later shared a lighthearted moment, as the conversation turned to the justice's hunting excursion with former Vice President Dick Cheney.

When Morgan joked that Scalia had "lived to tell the tale," referring to the 2006 incident when Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a campaign contributor during a weekend quail hunt, Scalia laughed, adding: "Dick Cheney is a very good wing shot."

Watch the clips, and listen to the interview, for a revealing look inside the Supreme Court, featuring unparalleled access to a man described as "the intellectual anchor of the Court's conservative wing."
-–
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