Scalia Defends Government's Right to Deny Art Funds:
In a 1998 decision, Justice Scalia wrote a concurring opinion upholding a Congressional decency test for grants awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was at the center of a furor over grants to Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe, Karen Finley and others.
The idea was not new, but the circumstances were. The justice, an opera lover and a strict conservative, was part of a Juilliard symposium on American society and the arts that put him in the company of the soprano Reneé Fleming, the composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and the historian David McCullough. He acknowledged the incongruity.
"The program reads like some kind of weird I.Q. test: 'Which of the following is out of place: diva, author, composer, lawyer,' " he told the audience at the Juilliard Theater. "The main business of a lawyer is to take the romance, the mystery, the irony, the ambiguity out of everything he touches."