New York Post Online Edition: gossip

New York Post Online Edition: gossip:
November 23, 2005 — AL Franken, the former “Saturday Night Live” star, found out the hard way not to mess with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who chided Franken as if he were a delinquent schoolboy at Time Warner Center on Monday night.

Scalia, following in the footsteps of Karl Rove and Bill Clinton, was the guest at Conversations on the Circle, a series of one-on-one interviews with outgoing Time Inc. editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine.

The A-list crowd included Michael Eisner, Jack Valenti, Mike Wallace, Tina Brown, Harry Evans and Stanley Pottinger. Scalia, a conservative who believes in a strict reading of the Constitution, is the scourge of liberal Democrats because he led the court’s 5-4 majority in voting to stop the vote recount in Florida in 2000.

When Pearlstine opened the floor for Q&A, Franken stood up in the back row and started talking about “judicial demeanor” and asking “hypothetically” about whether a judge should recuse himself if he had gone duck-hunting or flown in a private jet with a party in a case before his court.

Franken was clumsily referring to the fact that Scalia had gone hunting and flying with Dick Cheney before the 2000 election.

First, Scalia lectured Franken, “Demeanor is the wrong word. You mean ethics.” Then he explained, “Ethics is governed by tradition. It has never been the case where you recuse because of friendship.”

Time Warner chairman Dick Parsons later told PAGE SIX: “Al was not quite ready for prime time.” Franken was a “Not Ready for Prime Time Player” on “Saturday Night Live” long before he began hosting a radio show on Air America.

The confrontation with Scalia didn’t seem to weaken Franken’s interest in running for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota. Franken discussed his possible candidacy afterward at the cocktail reception overlooking Columbus Circle. “I think I got under his skin a little,” Franken humbly told us.

Scalia had earlier explained why he voted to allow flag-burning, but not nude dancing, and why the 1964 N.Y. Times v. Sullivan decision — which said the press could not be held liable for wrongful reporting on public figures unless it was guilty of “actual malice” — was wrong. “I don’t think that’s what the founding fathers intended,” Scalia said.

When Pearlstine noted that Scalia had been confirmed by the Senate 98-0, Scalia said, “The two missing guys were [Barry] Goldwater and Jack Garn,” both of whom were on death’s door. “Make it a hundred!”

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2 thoughts on “New York Post Online Edition: gossip

  1. Well, what Scalia said is patently untrue–and laughable. The fact that you would NOT recuse yourself from a case because a participant is a friend is the very definition of conflict of interest, which is a good thing to avoid in the judiciary.

    Why don’t you ask Judge Wapner about this? Say what you will about the circus that briefly resulted in a rash of court television shows, Wapner was an able judge. He once came down from the bench and conferred with the participants in a case because he had met one of them briefly at a party. Only after both participants agreed to proceed did Wapner hear the case.

    I’m not a legal expert, but I work for a very large firm and I’m pretty sure I could pick out any attorney and ask them about this and they would agree that Scalia’s response to Franken’s question was fatuous.

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