Knoxville, Tenn. (CBS DC) — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a crowd of law school students that if taxes in the U.S. become too high then people “should revolt.”
Speaking at the University of Tennessee College of Law on Tuesday, the longest-serving justice currently on the bench was asked by a student about the constitutionality of the income tax, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
Scalia responded that the government has the right to implement the tax, “but if it reaches a certain point, perhaps you should revolt.”
The justice was invited by the UT law school to present its annual “Rose Lecture,” and discussed events throughout his career such as his 1989 decision to rule with the majority that flag-burning was constitutionally protected speech. Scalia was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
“You’re entitled to criticize the government, and you can use words, you can use symbols, you can use telegraph, you can use Morse code, you can burn a flag,” Scalia told the standing-room-only crowd, according to the News Sentinel.
Scalia said that the justices aren’t swayed by partisan political spats, and that he doesn’t care which party controls the White House. He also expressed his theory of originalism, or that the U.S. Constitution is a fixed law and is not open to evolution or change over time.
“The Constitution is not a living organism for Pete’s sake,” the justice said, according to the report. “It’s a law. It means what it meant when it was adopted.”
— Benjamin Fearnow