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Justice Scalia Tells Senate 'Every Banana Republic Has a Bill of Rights'

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on October 17, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer took a turn in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee recently, riffing and espousing some interesting opinions.

The Justices hit on such hot topics as the televising of oral arguments; legislative struggles and "gridlock"; the separation of powers; and judicial philosophies.

On this last topic, Justice Scalia is "hopeful that the 'living' Constitution will die."

If you've never sat in on oral arguments, USA Today also reports that Scalia finds them quite boring. The Justices just "sit there like nine sticks on chairs."

Justice Thomas probably agrees.

The lack of entertainment value isn't the real reason Justices Scalia and Breyer are against courtroom cameras. No, they're just afraid that their actions would be whittled down to sound bites capable of destroying their reputations.

Justice Scalia also had an interesting take on legislative gridlock. He believes that Americans "should learn to love the gridlock." His good friends, the framers, would praise congressional power struggles as a means to prevent "an excess of legislation."

Many would just call the gridlock draining.

Power was actually a major focal point of the Justices' legislative talk. Any country can have a Bill of Rights, but as reported by the Los Angeles Times, Scalia believes it's the Constitution's structure that makes ours unique.

Without a separation of powers, the Bill of Rights means nothing. It's "just words on paper." But with a proper structure, including an independent judiciary, those words become enforceable.

It is the Supreme Court that has ultimate control over our rights.

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