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Scalia criticizes education — and Chicago pizza

US Supreme Court Justice AntonScalispeaks guests UniLeague Club Chicago Friday evening 2-14-14. | KevTanaka/For Sun-Times Media

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks to guests at the Union League Club of Chicago Friday evening 2-14-14. | Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 17, 2014 11:54AM

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia accused American schools of failing to properly educate citizens in their civic duties, railed against the state favoring non-religion over religion and even took a swipe at Chicago style pizza.

Scalia spoke Friday night at the Union League Club of Chicago’s 126th annual George Washington’s Birthday celebration.

Calling the founder of our country “my favorite president,” and “a man of conscience and steadfast determination,” Scalia then launched into an analysis of how the founding fathers and leading teachers of the period viewed education and how far he believes educators, like courts have strayed from their original intentions.

He lamented that most students in elite law school classes he speaks at have never read the Federalist Papers. “It is truly appalling that they should have reached graduate school without having been exposed to that important element of their national patrimony, the work that best explains the reasons and objectives of the constitution.”

Quoting lexicographer and educator Noah Webster, Scalia said, American students “must know and love the laws, this knowledge should be diffused by means of schools and newspapers, and an attachment to the laws may be formed by early impressions on the mind.”

Scalia added that Webster prescribed a course of study rich in American history and the glories of the American system of government.

“How politically incorrect these ideas seem in an age that worships diversity and moral relativism,” Scalia said.

Moving on to religion, he said the Supreme Court “has adopted the demonstrably unhistoric view that the Constitution forbids not merely the favoring of one religion over the other, but even the favoring of religion in general. In fact, it forbids the former but not the latter.”

Scalia also displayed his famous sarcastic wit throughout, lastly directing it at Chicago deep dish pizza during questioning after his speech. He said he liked both Chicago and New York style pizza, but Chicago style “shouldn’t be called pizza” he said. “It’s very tasty, but it’s not pizza.”

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