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Cameras barred from free speech ceremony

©Associated Press

March 20, 2003


CLEVELAND -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia banned broadcast media from his speech Wednesday at an appearance where he received an award for supporting free speech.

Scalia did not mention the ban, which he insisted upon, and television reporters were allowed to see him accept the award before his remarks. The justice did not take any questions from reporters.

The City Club usually tapes speakers for later broadcast on public television, but Scalia insisted on banning television and radio coverage of his speech, the club said.

Scalia was given the organization's Citadel of Free Speech Award.

"I might wish it were otherwise, but that was one of the criteria that he had for acceptance," said James Foster, the club's executive director.

The ban on broadcast media "begs disbelief and seems to be in conflict with the award itself," C-SPAN vice president and executive producer Terry Murphy wrote in a letter last week to the City Club. "How free is speech if there are limits to its distribution?"

The City Club selected Scalia because he has "consistently, across the board, had opinions or led the charge in support of free speech," Foster said. The proclamation applauds Scalia for protecting free speech in several Supreme Court cases, including voting to strike down a Texas flag-burning ban.

Cameras and recording devices are banned from the Supreme Court chamber, and Scalia prefers not to have camera coverage in other settings, said Kathleen Arberg, spokeswoman for the court.

Scalia made the same demand on John Carroll University, where he spoke Tuesday night.

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