(CBS) People who believe the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision giving the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush was politically motivated should just get over it, says Justice Antonin Scalia.
Scalia denies that the controversial decision was political and discusses other aspects of his public and private life in a remarkably candid interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, this Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
"I say nonsense," Scalia responds to Stahl’s observation that people say the Supreme Court’s decision in Gore v. Bush was based on politics and not justice. "Get over it. It’s so old by now. The principal issue in the case, whether the scheme that the Florida Supreme Court had put together violated the federal Constitution, that wasn’t even close. The vote was seven to two," he says, referring to the Supreme Court’s decision that the Supreme Court of Florida’s method for recounting ballots was unconstitutional.
Furthermore, says the outspoken conservative justice, it was Al Gore who ultimately put the issue into the courts. "It was Al Gore who made it a judicial question…. We didn’t go looking for trouble. It was he who said, 'I want this to be decided by the courts,'" says Scalia. "What are we supposed to say -- 'Not important enough?'" he jokes.
Call him conservative, just don’t call him biased on issues before the Supreme Court, including abortion, he says. "I am a law-and-order guy. I mean, I confess to being a social conservative, but it does not affect my views on cases," he tells Stahl. "On the abortion thing, for example, if indeed I were…trying to impose my own views, I would not only be opposed to Roe versus Wade, I would be in favor of the opposite view, which the anti-abortion people would like to see adopted, which is to interpret the Constitution to mean that a state must prohibit abortion." "And you’re against that?" asks Stahl. "Of course. There’s nothing [in the Constitution to support that view]."
Scalia also denies there is anything personal in his decisions or comments, which can often be biting. Stahl asks how he can be a close friend of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, his liberal bench mate, despite the fact that they oftentimes disagree. "I attack ideas, I don’t attack people, and some very good people have some very bad ideas," he tells Stahl. "And if you can’t separate the two, you got to get another day job. You don’t want to be a judge, at least not a judge on a multi-member panel."