Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has spoken approvingly of the use of torture before, but he’s expanded on that in a Swiss radio interview. Nothing in the Constitution prevents its use, he said, while citing circumstances where it would be hard to rule it out.
“Listen, I think it’s very facile for people to say, ‘Oh, torture is terrible.’ You posit the situation where a person that you know for sure knows the location of a nuclear bomb that has been planted in Los Angeles and will kill millions of people. You think it’s an easy question? You think it’s clear that you cannot use extreme measures to get that information out of that person?” Scalia said.
Scalia also said that while there are U.S. laws against torture, nothing in the Constitution appears to prohibit harsh treatment of suspected terrorists. “I don’t know what article of the Constitution that would contravene,” he said.
Scalia is free to contradict himself, of course. In January, considering whether cops in Los Angeles could stop a car on an anonymous tip, Scalia said in urging a defense lawyer to stand firm in challenge of such a stop:
Urging the lawyer for two suspects appealing their conviction to stand firm, Scalia suggested that not even information that a carload of terrorists heading to Los Angeles with an atomic bomb would be enough to justify police stopping the car, if the tip came from an anonymous source.
“I want you to say, ‘Let the car go. Bye-bye, LA,'” Scalia said.