Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Laugh a Minute Wall Street Journal Has Report on Antonin Scalia’s Book on Instructing Young Lawyers

A Less Qualified Source – Impossible (Okay Maybe Justice Thomas)

In the future when legal historians are able to write objectively about the Supreme Court they will regard the opinions of Justice Antonin Scalia as somewhere between ignorant and hysterical.  Justice Scalia has taken it upon himself to disregard legal scholarship to whatever extent necessary to impose his own personal views in his decisions.  He justifies this by claiming that he, and he alone knows how the Founding Fathers would have decided based on the Constitution.

Justice Scalia long has championed an approach, called originalism or textualism, which seeks to apply the text of a statute or constitutional provision according to its meaning at the time of adoption.

This reveals as basic a failure to understand the Constitution as can ever be done.  The Constitution is not a set of laws. the Founding Fathers being smart enough to know that over time the environment would change, and so the Constitution provided a set of principles for men and women to govern the country.  For example, the Constitution bans cruel and unusual punishment, not specific practices.  For Justice Scalia this means only those that would be cruel and unusual in 1789 are banned.  For the rest of us common sense and a keen legal understanding tells us what they really meant.

So it is with some hilarity that we learn that the Justice has decided to share his judicial wisdom with the masses.

Would you buy a used law book from
this man?

"I've been a judge for 30 years and a law professor for 10, that's 40 years investment" in the field, Justice Scalia said in an interview.

The time had come, he said, "to sum up the things I care most about with respect to the law." Justice Scalia, 76-years old, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Justice Scalia insisted that his book, "Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts," 

The really astounding thing, apparently the Judge has learned nothing in those 40 years, except an arrogance that says he has the authority to apply his personal political beliefs to the Supreme Court decisions.

Neither would he discuss his dissent from a 5-3 June decision to void parts of an Arizona law imposing criminal penalties on illegal immigrants. Where the majority held the state law interfered with federal authority over immigration, Justice Scalia used his dissent to accuse President Obama of disregarding a legal duty to deport illegal immigrants.

"The dissent speaks for itself," Justice Scalia said.

Well that part is true, the dissent does speak for itself.  But what it says is that here is a Justice who is ruled not by the rule of law but by his own personal rules.  And that, however long it takes, will be history’s judgment.


  1. "Originalism" is the greatest form of right-wing judicial propaganda ever conceived. All qualified judges attempt to interpret the Constitution according to its intended meaning. But if a judge declares he pursues an "originalist interpretation," he begins with the presumption that his interpretation is the only one consistent with the Framers' intent, and all other interpretations are the work of activist judges injecting their own beliefs into the document.

  2. Let's just hope he retires and is not there another decade. Great post and comment before mine. People like Scalia scare me, really!

  3. Thanks Anon. Regarding Scalia's retirement, Scalia made his mark and there are plenty of conservative judges ready to take up the originalist banner when he retires. If Romney wins the election, it will increase the chance Scalia retires because he knows he will be replaced by another Justice in the mold of Roberts or Alito.

    As bad as Scalia is, he's a champion of liberty compared to Thomas. Scalia occasionally comes down on the side of individual freedoms. That can't be said for Thomas, who wants to roll back the Constitution to pre-Civil War conditions.