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Justice Scalia slams Obama SOTU as 'childish spectacle

FILE - In this March 8, 2012 file phoo, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Scalia drew unusually critical attention during this past Supreme Court term for comments he made in court and in his writing that seemed to some more political than judicial.Credit: AP

For the 16th year in a row, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia successfully avoided the annual State of the Union address at the Capitol. Whether it's a Democrat or a Republican delivering the address is inconsequential to Scalia, who says the constitutionally mandated status report has "turned into a childish spectacle."

"I don't want to be there to lend dignity to it," Scalia explained Tuesday during a forum sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates and moderated by NPR's Nina Totenberg. "I didn't set this up tonight just to upstage the president," Scalia added. "The State of the Union is not something I mark on my calendar, like Easter or Yom Kippur."

The Associated Press reports on Scalia's remarks:

Scalia said the justices in attendance [at the SOTU] inevitably keep their eyes on the chief justice, who decides when it is appropriate to applaud.

If the president says the United States is a great country, clap away, he said. But no justice can clap "if it's anything anybody can disagree with," Scalia said.

And while guns and the Second Amendment were hot topics in the State of the Union, Scalia noted the hunting prowess of his liberal colleague, Justice Elena Kagan:

Prodded by Totenberg, Scalia also commented on the hunting ability of Justice Elena Kagan, who has joined Scalia to shoot quail, pheasant and larger animals. 

Last year, on a trip to Wyoming, they had a license to go after antelope and mule deer. But there were none to be found.

Instead, "she ended up killing a white-tailed doe, which she could have done in my driveway" in suburban Virginia, Scalia said.

Scalia predicted that the issue of gun control will soon be on the high court's docket. Scalia's own experience with guns started in high school when he competed on his school's rifle team.  Paul Bedard has more:

Back then, he said, Americans didn't go nuts when they saw a gun. "It was no big deal. Carrying a gun was no big deal," he said. Today is a different story, he lamented. "It's very sad the attitude of the public at large on guns has changed so much that they associate it with nothing but crime."

Scalia explained why he wrote Heller, but wouldn't discuss current gun control limits in Congress and the states. "There are doubtless cases on the way up," he said, adding that limits on what weapons can be owned will likely be part of any new decision. "There are doubtless limits, but what they are we will see."

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