WATCH: Scalia's scathing dissent on AZ SB 1070

Posted at 2:45 PM, Feb 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-14 21:29:17-05

During his 30 years as a United States Supreme Court justice, the late Antonin Scalia was known as much for his scathing dissenting opinions as he was for his staunch belief in constitutional originalism.

Scalia's dissent relating to Arizona SB 1070, the controversial Arizona state law designed to allow the state to enhance its anti-illegal immigration efforts, was no exception.

In 2012, Scalia gave a rare interview to Fox News' Chris Wallace about some of his Supreme Court decisions, including his dissent in Arizona et. al. vs. the United States, which ruled the majority of SB 1070 unconstitutional. 

Wallace asked Scalia whether he crossed the line when he added this comment in his dissent: "To say that, as the Court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind."

Scalia said his remark was based on what he considered a fallacious argument from the federal government as to why SB 1070 superseded federal law.

"The solicitor general had argued to the court that the only reason Arizona was suffering the incursion of immigrants that it was, was that there was just not enough funding for immigration enforcement, and the executive has to make decisions about where to allocate the funding," Scalia told Wallace.

"I said in my opinion that even that is no justification for refusing to let Arizona supplement the enforcement, so long as it's only enforcing federal law, and not going beyond federal law." 

Scalia said the solicitor general's argument "demonstrates the point that Arizona is being prevented from enforcing federal immigration law, even when the executive, rightly or wrongly, simply chooses not to enforce it."

Check out the relevant portion of Scalia's interview with Wallace below.

Scalia also took time (in classic Scalia style) to brush off the argument of an appeals court judge who disagreed with his dissenting opinion.

"And people wonder why you push people's buttons every once in a while," Wallace said.