The reporter wa absolutely not in the wrong. If there was no advance notice and nothing posting that recording was prohibuted, I would argue that it is the reporters duty to gather the most accurate possible record of the proceeding.
The speech was also not “off the record”. The story doesn’t suggest that other reporters, who presumably were taking written notes, were barred from attributing quotes to Justice Scalia.
While a Supreme Court Justice, or anyone else really, can certainly refuse to participate in events unless certain conditions are met – like not allowing recordings-- but this went well beyond what I would consider a reasonable response. It is up to the host and sponsor of the event to set the media rules on their property; Federal officers simply should not be able to sieze a reporter’s work product if the material is gathered legitimately, unless it is needed as evidence to prosecute a crime. Clearly that wasn’t the case, as they promptly destroyed it.
I would also point out that, appearing as a Federal employee, Justice Scalia does not own his apeeches. This is not a sports hero addressing a booster’s club, this is a government employee speaking to citizens.
So I pose thes related questions: does every word spoken by a Supreme Court Justice, regardless of the venue, have the full force of law behind it? Can, or should, a justice be able to exercise the full power of his office over an unexpected situation at a cocktail party imvolving his own activity?
IMHO, Scalia would have acted appropriately had he done the following: explain to the hosts that his ground rules were being violated, and that he would not participate until they put things right. The hosts could then address the reporters and offer them the choice of turning off their recorsing devices or leaving. If the OP article is correct, lacking advance notice of recording restrictions, there was absolutely know excuse for seizing anything recorded up to that point.
Instead, he ordered – or maybe even his security detail has standing orders – to simply seize any operating recording device in the vicinity and destroy the data. I find that behavior unacceptable.