The online news portal of TV5
WASHINGTON -- Justice Antonin Scalia, an outspoken conservative on the US Supreme Court, admitted Sunday that he likes to push people's buttons but hit back at claims of political bias.
"I don't think the court is political at all," Scalia, giving a rare interview to promote a new book on jurisprudence, told "Fox News Sunday."
Scalia said the current five-four split, with Republican-nominated judges in the majority and Democrat-nominated judges in the minority, simply showed the agenda of the presidents who chose them.
"That doesn't show they are voting politics. It shows they were selected because of judicial philosophy," he said.
The US Supreme Court is the final arbiter on many of the most important issues in American life and is meant to be an impartial check on the president and Congress.
Discussion about whether the court has become too political intensified at the end of June when Scalia read aloud a particularly scathing dissent to a decision on Arizona's controversial immigration law.
He explicitly attacked President Barack Obama's administration for its "lax federal enforcement" of immigration laws and for planning to exempt 1.4 million illegal immigrants under 30, saying it "boggles the mind."
Quizzed on "Fox News Sunday" about a strong reaction to this dissent, Scalia said: "It is fun to push the buttons."
Ahead of June's highly-anticipated ruling on Obama's health care law, only one in eight Americans said the court would make its decision based solely on legal arguments, according to a survey by The New York Times and CBS.
But Chief Justice John Roberts, who had been seen as a reliable conservative, surprised many by voting with the court's four liberal-leaning judges to uphold the law, which is strongly opposed by the Republicans.
That decision restored faith in the court for many who had believed it would vote along entrenched conservative/liberal lines to strike down Obama's signature domestic policy achievement.
However, some who opposed that ruling accused Roberts of allowing pressure from the Obama administration and concerns over his own legacy to drive him to vote against his best legal principles.