Scalia Tastes His Own Medicine


Jane Harmon became a crusader against wiretapping after she got wiretapped. Will Justice Scalia become a privacy watchdog after this?

Last week, we wrote about the Fordham law professor who assigned his information privacy law class to compile a dossier on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The professor had chosen Scalia as the target for privacy invasion because of the Justice’s remarks at a January conference organized by the Institute of American and Talmudic Law. Scalia’s views on the privacy of personal information online are summed up nicely by this quote:

“Every single datum about my life is private? That’s silly,” Scalia [said].

Silly, that is, until a group of students compiles a 15-page dossier containing such juicy bits as his favorite foods, movies, and adorable grandchildren. Somebody wasn’t happy:

Here is Justice Scalia’s response, in all its scathing glory:

I stand by my remark at the Institute of American and Talmudic Law conference that it is silly to think that every single datum about my life is private. I was referring, of course, to whether every single datum about my life deserves privacy protection in law.

It is not a rare phenomenon that what is legal may also be quite irresponsible. That appears in the First Amendment context all the time. What can be said often should not be said. Prof. Reidenberg’s exercise is an example of perfectly legal, abominably poor judgment. Since he was not teaching a course in judgment, I presume he felt no responsibility to display any.

The sarcasm seems a little over-the-top, doesn’t it just? I wonder what dear old Anton’s upset about.

He doesn’t have a diaper fetish like dear old David, does he? What’s he afraid of – that they’ll find receipts for Pampers and prostitutes? Privacy protection wouldn’t seem so silly should something like that prove to be the case.

I do hope Professor Reidenberg and his students continue their data mining. This should get fun.

Comments

  1. says

    Maybe there’s something to this walking in another person’s shoes thing, eh?Ironically, these are examples of why I think respecting privacy is important, as well as the proper use of warrants and judicial procedure. When government officials can blackmail each other. there’s every reason to believe the outcome won’t be in the country’s best interests.