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Justice Scalia: Constitution Doesn’t Prohibit Torture

In an interview with Radio Television Suisse this week following the release of Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said he doesn’t “think it’s so clear at all” that the U.S. Constitution prohibits torture, especially in the “ticking time bomb” scenarios so often cited by defenders of the “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

“Listen, I think it’s very facile for people to say, ‘Oh, torture is terrible,'” Scalia told the Swiss radio network. “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?”

“I don’t know what article of the Constitution that would contravene,” the conservative justice added in reference to the harsh treatment of terrorism suspects.

As the Associated Press’ Mark Sherman reported Friday, Scalia has previously invoked the fictional Jack Bauer character from the television series 24 to make a similar point about torture.

“Are you going to convict Jack Bauer? Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial?’ Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so,” Scalia argued at an Ottawa legal conference in 2007. “So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes.”

[Photo via screengrab]

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