A recording of Supreme Court proceedings unearthed Wednesday revealed justices laughing when five protesters interrupted a hearing
At one point, Scalia hoped aloud for the protestors to receive "stiff, stiff sentences" for their activity
The microphones were on, and the Supreme Court justices kept talking.
A recording of Supreme Court proceedings unearthed Wednesday revealed Justice Antonin Scalia and two other conservative justices laughing when five protesters interrupted a hearing with a message about campaign finance on April 1. At one point, Scalia hoped aloud for the protestors to receive “stiff, stiff sentences” for their activity.
The audio, produced as part of the discovery portion of the criminal proceedings against them, shows the candor that Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts display when they find their usually orderly courtrooms interrupted. The recording also provides a bit of insight into the justices’ personalities and interactions.
And Scalia’s comments are particularly irksome for the protesters, who say it shows that the court doesn’t take the growing influence of money in politics seriously.
“What Scalia says reflects that attitude of contempt,” Kai Newkirk, who is the director with 99Rise, which sponsored the protests, told CNN Thursday. “It reveals an attitude – saying these people should be given ‘stiff, stiff penalties’ – that they don’t want to hear the voices of the people.”
The recording begins with protesters saying, “‘We rise to demand democracy. One person, one vote.”
Scalia and Thomas are taken aback: “Oh Lord,” says Scalia. “Oh, there will be another one.”
“I didn’t think the bankruptcy cases would attract such attention,” Roberts sternly tells the protesters.
The justices then recognize some of the faces in the crowd.
“Is it the same guy?” asks Scalia.
“Yup,” says Thomas. “Same guy.”
“They should give them some stiff sentences is what they ought to do,” Scalia tells his colleagues. “Give them stiff, stiff sentences. Stiff sentences.”
Thomas is perplexed: “What does that mean?”
He doesn’t get an answer, as protesters continue to chant. Roberts has had it.
“Anyone else interested in talking will be admonished that it’s within the authority of this court to punish such disturbances by criminal contempt,” he tells them.
“Should do it,” Scalia says into the microphone.
Roberts agrees: “Yup.”