VOTER MARCH PROTESTS SCALIA AT HOFSTRA U. ETHICS CONFERENCE
Antonin Scalia, one of the five ultra-conservative U.S. Supreme Court Judges who stopped the legal hand count of votes in Florida in Election 2000, appeared at Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island, NY on Sunday, September 9th. To add insult to injury, Scalia was the keynote speaker and was honored at this Hofstra Law School Ethics Conference.
There were hundreds of protestors just outside the Conference, including a contingent from Voter March New York that came up by Charter bus. Inside the Conference, Voter March Chairman Lou Posner, Esq. introduced himself as a New York attorney and asked Scalia "Your Honor, you have discussed the ethics of lawyers, while little or nothing has been said about the ethics of Judges. There has been much controversy over your decision in Bush v. Gore including accusations that you acted unethically. Could you please respond to these accusations?" Justice Scalia responded "Yes, I didn't" in a smug and cavalier manner. Posner then responded "No further questions" to remind Scalia that he should be on trial for his crimes. Chris Acosta, Voter March National Steering Committee, never made it to the question and answer session as he was ejected from the Conference for exercising his First Amendment rights when he exclaimed "Ethics - Ha, Ha, Ha."
The protests and Acosta's encounter with Scalia were mentioned in News Day:
Question of Ethics for Scalia Election ruling sparks protest at Hofstra talk
By Bart Jones STAFF WRITER
September 10, 2001
Outside, nearly 100 people yesterday protested the appearance of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at a conference at Hofstra University, saying the justice helped President George W. Bush "steal" last November's election.
But inside, he was warmly received by legal scholars and attorneys who came to hear him, and he later received a standing ovation.
Inviting Scalia to discuss judicial ethics is "like asking Idi Amin to talk about human rights," said Nancy Solomon, 44, of Roslyn.
But Hofstra officials defended Scalia, saying he has ccumulated an impressive record on the bench and has led a rilliant career.
"Someone who carefully looks at his career ... would find he's a highly principled judge," said David Yellen, dean of Hofstra University School of Law. He called the protest "severely misguided."
Scalia did not directly address the protesters during his 40-minute keynote speech. The protesters said Scalia let his conservative ideology dictate his support of the high court's majority opinion that stopped the presidential vote recount in Florida and effectively handed the presidency to Bush.
A heckler in the audience, Christopher Acosta, 50, of Manhattan, was asked to leave by Hofstra authorities after emitting several loud ha, ha, ha's in response to comments by Scalia. After one of the outbursts, Scalia stopped speaking. Staring at Acosta he said, "there is a lawyer joke right there." The audience broke out in laughter.
Scalia did not discuss in depth the court's vote on the November election in the close contest between Bush and former vice president Al Gore, saying it would be "inappropriate."
But generally, Scalia defended the court's decision to end the recounts, and said critics were divided on the issue depending on political persuasion.
In other areas, he argued that imposing a mandatory attorney ethics code could be problematic, but he said ethics are a critical part of the profession.
He also said too many lawyers work absurdly long hours, short-changing their responsibilities as parents, community leaders and members of churches and synagogues.
Lawyers, he said, have gotten the idea that if they're not working long hours seven days a week they're "not really big-time ... that's just silly."
Copyright © 2001, Newsday, Inc.
PETITION: Petition to the Dean of Hofstra Law School protesting Scalia at its Ethics Conference was personally delivered to Dean Yellin by Lou Posner at the Ethics Conference, along with over 700 signatures.