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Scalia Asserts Right to Ban Broadcasters

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has asserted a First Amendment right to exclude radio or TV from his speeches.

In issuing an apology for a federal marshal's confiscation of two print reporters' tapes of a speech he made to high schoolers in Mississippi last week, Scalia said he had not asked for, nor known, about the seizure and indicated he would now allow print reporters to use tape recorders (while still excluding radio and TV recording technology).

But in the letter of apology to Lucy Dalglish, head of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Scalia also said that the electronic media in the past "respected my First Amendment right not to speak on radio or television when I do not wish to do so."

"I've never heard of that right," said Dalglish. "I respect his right not to start his own network talk show," she says, but doubts there is any case law to back up his assertion of a First Amendment right not to be on radio or TV. "At least he apologized for the clearly illegal confiscation of the tapes," she said.

Dalglish says she doesn't know what Scalia's problem with the broadcast media is, but wishes she did. "If we knew what his problem was, perhaps he could sit down with the Radio-Television News Directors Association or others and we could try to accommodate his concerns. But nobody quite understands what is going on here."

A Supreme Court spokesman was still researching the various media coverage preferences and rationales of the Justices at press time, but Scalia has historically opposed cameras in various courts.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.