The Radio-Television News Directors Association has tangled with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia before, but this time, the group said, he's gone way over the line.
Last week, the RTNDA was incensed after a federal marshal guarding Scalia erased tape recordings two Mississippi print reporters made of his speech to Hattiesburg high schoolers. Scalia routinely bans recording devices—including television cameras and radio microphones—from his public appearances but RNTDA says a federal officer has never required reporters to turnover tapes of a justice's comments.
"What makes this different than previous incidents involving Scalia is the questionable legality," says RTNDA President Barbara Cochran. “This high-handed seizure of a journalist’s work product without any regard whatsoever for the rights and responsibilities of the news media is totally unacceptable. Justice Scalia’s unreasonable and discriminatory treatment of electronic newsgathering was bound to lead to this kind of inappropriate action."
RTNDA sent a written complaint to the director of the U.S. Marshal Service asking him to inform all marshals they may not confiscate or erase journalists' material.
Just a year ago, RTNDA complained when Scalia banned TV and radio coverage of a Cleveland City Club luncheon at which Scalia received, ironically, the Citadel of Free Speech Award. The luncheons are normally televised locally.