MIDDLETOWN—U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stood before a packed crowd at Memorial Chapel on the campus of Wesleyan University, and spoke about his “originalist” interpretation of constitutional law.
Scalia, the longest-serving justice currently on the court, told the crowd that an “originalist” view is the best way to interpret complicated legal problems.
But not everyone agreed with him.
A group of Wesleyan students calling themselves the “Scalia Welcoming Committee” did their best to disrupt the proceedings.
Scalia spoke for roughly nearly and hour and defended some of his most controversial decisions, among them his efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, and his vote in the Bush v. Gore decision that ended the Florida recount and effectively declared George W. Bush president in 2000.
The originalist approach to the constitution – “the only game in town,” Scalia quipped – requires that justices interpret the constitution in the manner that its authors intended.
He further defended his striking down of the Washington D.C. handgun ban, and riled up certain members of the crowd by repeatedly using the phrase “homosexual sodomy.”
Scalia was speaking as part of the annual Hugo L. Black Lecture on freedom of expression. Black, a Supreme Court justice from 1937 to 1971, was an ardent champion of the First Amendment.
Toward the end of the speech, students from the “Scalia Welcoming Committee” dropped two banners from the balcony of the chapel, one reading “There is no justice in the court of the conqueror,” and the other reading “Scalia is for the People, Inc.” The latter is a reference to Scalia’s decision in the controversial Citizens United case.
Wesleyan security guards removed several students dressed in Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuits and black hoods out of the chapel.
Students also threw condoms from the balcony, reading “Practice Safe Sodomy” and “Stops more abortions than Scalia.”
A Guantanamo-costumed protester, who would only give his name as Dan, said that he was displeased by the university administration’s handling of the protesters.
“For an event about freedom of expression, the administration hasn’t been very supportive of that concept,” he said.
Scalia was also welcomed by a contingent from Occupy New Haven, who chanted “racist, sexist, anti-gay, Justice Scalia go away” and “money is not speech.”
Wesleyan security did ask for the assistance of Middletown police to remove several protesters from a room in which Scalia was signing copies of his book.