Published Thursday | April 24, 2008
Scalia: I'm conservative, but not biased
The Associated Press ... d=10318678

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Constitution doesn't prohibit abortion any more than it allows it, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says in a television news interview to be broadcast Sunday.

Scalia told CBS News' "60 Minutes" that he may be conservative, but he is not biased on issues that come before the court. "I mean, I confess to being a social conservative, but it does not affect my views on cases," Scalia said in excerpts released Thursday.

"On the abortion thing, for example, if indeed I were ... trying to impose my own views, I would not only be opposed to Roe versus Wade, I would be in favor of the opposite view, which the anti-abortion people would like to see adopted, which is to interpret the Constitution to mean that a state must prohibit abortion," Scalia told correspondent Lesley Stahl.

"And you're against that?" Stahl asked.

Scalia replied, "Of course." He said "there's nothing" (in the Constitution to support that view.)

The interview is tied to the publication on Monday of a new book, "Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges," that Scalia, 72, wrote with legal writing expert Bryan Garner.

At an appearance Thursday afternoon in Baltimore, Scalia told students from the University of Baltimore School of Law he opposed the concept of a living constitution that changes as society's standards change. Interpreting the Constitution to ban things such as abortion, for example, denies citizens to right to decide such matters for themselves, Scalia told the students.

"Why should the court have the power to remove this from the democratic process?" Scalia said of the abortion debate.

The justice described himself as an originalist who gives language in the various amendments the meaning it had when adopted. While some may argue that construing the Constitution as a living document can lead to greater freedom, Scalia said that concept is a two-way street that could also lead to the elimination of certain freedoms.

The living constitution is seductive to judges, who can craft it to their tastes, but that has also politicized the selection of nominees to the high court, the justice said.

"It's a mini constitutional convention every time you select a nominee today," because of the potential for the nominee to shape the Constitution to their views, Scalia said.

When asked about the future makeup of the court, Scalia joked he thought the next nominee would be "a female Hispanic Protestant, if there is one out there," prompting laughter from the crowd.

The "60 Minutes" segment also touches on Scalia's oft-repeated advice to Democrats who are still sore about the court's role in deciding the 2000 Florida recount case in favor of George W. Bush and against Al Gore.

"Get over it. It's so old by now," he said.

Stahl asked Scalia to respond to the contention that the court's decision in Gore v. Bush was based on politics and not justice. "I say 'nonsense,'" Scalia said.

Scalia said Gore was the one who said, "'I want this to be decided by the courts.'"

Bush's legal team, however, was the first to go into federal court in November 2000 to try to block by-hand recounts in some Florida counties.