Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia yesterday denied as “absurd” a widely circulated news report that he complained portrayed him as considering resigning from the Supreme Court for financial reasons.
He also took the extraordinary step of personally attacking longtime Supreme Court reporter Tony Mauro for the article, which he labeled as “gossipy, titillating and thus characteristically Mauronic copy.”
“Contrary to the unattributed statements in the article, however, I have never suggested to anyone that I would leave the bench because of that limitation,” Justice Scalia said in a letter published yesterday by Legal Times. Mr. Mauro moved almost a year ago from USA Today to become Supreme Court correspondent for Legal Times and its parent, American Lawyer Media.
“My name hasn’t been made fun of like that since I was in fourth grade. My parents aren’t real happy about it,” Mr. Mauro said yesterday while defending the crux of a Sept. 18 report about a bill to lift the 11-year ban on paying federal judges to give speeches.
Judges, including Supreme Court justices, may earn up to $21,195 a year teaching.
Justice Scalia makes $173,600 a year as a member of the high court.
In his scathing letter to Legal Times, published yesterday, Justice Scalia said he willingly took a pay cut and gave up consulting work that nearly doubled his University of Chicago salary when he was appointed to the Circuit Court of Appeals in 1982, and gave up the fringe benefit of free tuition for his nine children. He was elevated to the Supreme Court in September 1986.
“The notion that one who was so indifferent to financial gain when he joined the Court of Appeals with nine children still to send through college, should contemplate resigning from the Supreme Court for financial reasons now that the last child is in her junior year is on its face absurd,” Justice Scalia said.
The article’s first sentence said, “On Capitol Hill, it became known as the ‘Keep Scalia on the Court’ bill.” That was supported by quotations attributed to “knowledgeable sources” and “one prominent appeals judge who requested anonymity.”
“The article’s allegations of my preoccupation with money are not only false; they are not even plausible,” said Justice Scalia who is outspoken but not known for aiming pointed responses at an individual.
“It’s quintessential Scalia; he loves to play with words,” Mr. Mauro said of the “Mauronic” label, insisting the article neither defamed the justice’s integrity nor made it sound like he’s obsessed with money.
“The gist of the story was that Scalia has complained about this honoraria issue for a long time and he’s complained about it to a number of people. Either directly or indirectly, members of Congress were aware of his complaints. We didn’t say that he lobbied, just that he complained about it,” the Supreme Court correspondent said.
Mr. Mauro said such high-profile criticism felt strange.
“Reporters are not supposed to be part of the story, but I don’t think I’m in the Adam Clymer category,” he said, recalling Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush’s scatological description of the New York Times reporter.