Highlights from Justice Alito’s 2014 Federalist Society Gala

November 14th, 2014

Thanks to a super-handy foldable bluetooth keyboard, I was able to live-tweet Justice Alito’s address before the Federalist Society Gala. Justice Alito was interviewed by his former law clerk, Adam G. Ciongoli. The discussion ranged from the FirSst Amendment, to the Fourth Amendment, to how Justice Alito works with his clerks. It was very enjoyable. Here are some of the highlights I tweeted.

They opened with some insights into Justice Alito’s career, time in New Jersey as a US Attorney, and as a 3d Circuit Judge.

And, to answer a question others have raised, Justice Alito did try one case in district court–it was the murder of an FBI agent.

We also learned that Justice Alito does not like an unnamed female Court Artist, who draws him, and Justice Kagan “horrible.”

Justice Alito also thought about taunting Justice Kagan and Ginsburg by spitting in his spitoon.

Justice Alito also opined that initially, his plan for oral arguments was to only interrupt at the end of paragraphs. That didn’t work. Then he tried at the end of sentence. That didn’t work. So now he is content to be rude.

For those who want to argue, they should string a single sentence that lasts 30 minutes. Recently Seth Waxman was chastised by Justice Scalia for not pausing for a breath between sentences.

THe next set of questions focused on the role of the law clerk.

I’m looking at you Justices Marshall and Blackmun. Alito has no interest of going back to cert pool.

Then, Alito was asked about legal education.

Next, the questions turned to the First Amendment, with a focus on his dissents in Snyder v. Phelps, Stevens, and Alvarez:

We were treated to this description of crush films.

Alito next explained that he does not view our society evolving in the right direction with respect to the protection of free speech, relating to the “Evolving Standards” in 8th Amendment jurisprudence:

Next, the questions turned to the 4th Amendment. Alito’s general position was that Legislatures, and not Courts should be in the business of deciding what practices are reasonable, or not, though at bottom courts interpret the 4th Amendment:

Then, in what seemed like a sleight to Justice Scalia’s opinion in Jones, he critiques the property view of 4th Amendment law (Nino was sitting in the front row):

Ultimately, it should be Congress who defines the contours of privacy for technology.

For the last question, Ciongoli noted that after Alito was appointed to the Court, the Philadelphia Phillies won the division several times, and the World Series. Can he help the Sixers?

Also, special shout-outs to the Supreme Court press corps who was in the back of the room on a dais (elevating the freedom of the press!).

And my bluetooth keyboard.