POLITICS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Scalia Misquoted On Brown v. Board Of Education (CORRECTED)

CORRECTION: An item posted here -- reporting that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that if he were on the court in 1954, he would have dissented in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision that ended school segregation based on race -- was incorrect.

The original report, in Phoenix's East Valley Tribune has been changed.

Yale Law School Professor and blogger Jack Balkin writes: "Here is the video of the event:

"At 23:45 Justice Scalia.... says that he stands with Justice Harlan, who dissented in Plessy v. Ferguson. He argues that the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits racial discrimination."

Watch Scalia comment:

Here is our original, incorrect report:

* * * * *

In an appearance at the University of Arizona College of Law, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that if he were on the court in 1954, he would have dissented in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision that ended school segregation based on race.

Appearing on stage with Justice Stephen Breyer, Scalia cautioned against "inventing new rights nobody ever thought existed." Scalia said he advocates an "originalist" approach to the Constitution, warning against an "evolutionary" legal philosophy that he described as, "close your eyes and decide what you think is a good idea.''

Phoenix's East Valley Tribune reported (via Taegan Goddard's Political Wire):

Using his "originalist'' philosophy, Scalia said he likely would have dissented from the historic 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that declared school segregation illegal and struck down the system of "separate but equal'' public schools. He said that decision, which overturned earlier precedent, was designed to provide an approach the majority liked better.


"I will stipulate that it will,'' Scalia said. But he said that doesn't make it right. "Kings can do some stuff, some good stuff, that a democratic society could never do,'' he continued.

"Hitler developed a wonderful automobile,'' Scalia said. "What does that prove?''

"The only thing you can be sure of is the Constitution will mean whatever the American people want it to mean today,'' Scalia said. "And that's not what a Constitution is for. The whole purpose of a constitution is to constrain the desires of the current society.''

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