HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Two reporters were ordered Wednesday to erase their tape recordings of a speech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (search) at a Mississippi high school.
Scalia has long barred television cameras from his speeches, but does not always forbid newspaper photographers and tape recorders. On Wednesday, he did not warn the audience at the high school that recording devices would be forbidden.
During the speech, a woman identifying herself as a deputy federal marshal demanded that a reporter for The Associated Press erase a tape recording of the justice's comments. She said the justice had asked that his appearance not be recorded.
The reporter initially resisted, but later showed the deputy how to erase the digital recording after the officer took the device from her hands. The exchange occurred in the front row of the auditorium while Scalia delivered his speech about the Constitution.
The deputy, who identified herself as Melanie Rube (search), also made a reporter for The Hattiesburg American erase her tape.
Scalia gave two speeches Wednesday in Hattiesburg, one at Presbyterian Christian High School and the other at William Carey College (search). The recording-device warning was made before the college speech.
At a reception following Scalia's speech at William Carey, the justice told television reporters from Hattiesburg station WDAM-TV to leave. A member of his entourage also told newspaper photographers they could not take pictures, but a college official reversed the order after non-media guests started snapping photos.
William Carey spokeswoman Jeanna Graves later sent an apology to the media.
"I specifically asked for protocol and was told that the media would have access to Justice Scalia during the reception," Graves wrote in an e-mail. She said she was "embarrassed and angry" over the incident.
Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said that it is up to Scalia and his staff to set guidelines for coverage of his events.
"It's standard that his speeches are not televised," she said.
Last year, Scalia was criticized for refusing to allow television and radio coverage of an event in Ohio in which he received an award for supporting free speech.
Scalia, who was appointed to the bench by President Reagan in 1986, told students that the Constitution's true meaning must always be protected.
"The Constitution of the United States is extraordinary and amazing. People just don't revere it like they used to," Scalia told a full auditorium of high school students, officials, religious leaders.
He said he spends most of his time thinking about the Constitution, calling it "a brilliant piece of work."