Scalia’s Greatest Hits

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Most judicial writing is so bad, riddled with jargon and bloviation, that only people paid to do so would ever bother to read it.  The late Justice Antonin Scalia was the exception to this rule.  His writing was vibrant, free from both cant and jargon, and often extremely amusing.  Bruce T. Murray at Sage Law.US has compiled some of Justice Scalia’s greatest hits:

“Those who wish to create indecent and disrespectful art are as unconstrained now as they were before the enactment of this statute. Avant-garde artistes such as respondents remain entirely free to épater les bourgeois; they are merely deprived of the additional satisfaction of having the bourgeoisie taxed to pay for it. It is preposterous to equate the denial of taxpayer subsidy with measures aimed at the suppression of dangerous ideas.”
National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley, 525 U.S. 569 (1998) (Scalia, J., concurring)

“All the provisions of the Bill of Rights set forth the rights of individual men and women – not, for example, of trees or polar bears.”
Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310, 391-392 (2010)

“If forbidding peaceful, nonthreatening, but uninvited speech from a distance closer than eight feet is a ‘narrowly tailored’ means of preventing the obstruction of entrance to medical facilities (the governmental interest the State asserts), narrow tailoring must refer not to the standards of Versace, but to those of Omar the Tentmaker.
Hill v. Colo., 530 U.S. 703, 749 (2000)

Go here to read the rest.

My personal favorite is from footnote 22 of his blistering dissent in the gay marriage case:

“If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

That was a Scalia!  When shall we have another?

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  1. What a GREAT loss to Americans.
    At Mass a candle and portion of my communion for his soul.

    God will be victorious. America? Who knows the future of America? God will win. Stay close to God.

  2. Several years ago, many of Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinions were published
    in a collection titled, appropriately enough, Scalia Dissents. While such a
    collection might be deadly dull in other hands, Scalia’s writings are incisive,
    riveting and quite witty. I just checked Amazon, and copies are available.
    Just sayin’.

  3. I see the lilly white liberal progressives are calling for the death of Clarence Thomas, the only black on the bench? Why isn’t that racist? And why is condemnation of Barack Hussein Obama deemed racist?

  4. In the video, it is amazing how the interviewer keeps trying to change the philosophical disagreement between Ginsberg and Scalia into a personal disagreement. Yeesh.

  5. A weird thought. As the years go by, I become less and less impressed by people who can turn a phrase. It may be the effect of the internet. There are so many people who can be witty without having substance in their thoughts. I should be used to it by now, but it still surprises me. I love the clarity of Justice Scalia’s opinions. That’s where their beauty lies. It’s going to be the quality of his reasoning that, God willing, will make even his dissents more influential than others’ majority opinions in the next hundred years.

  6. Gosh Pinky I think I most often agree with you, but I have to disagree with you about people who can “turn a phrase”… I think of G K Chesterton and others. A pithy phrase does often show depth of thought though is sometimes missed perhaps Because it is so quick and apparently (only apparently) simple.

  7. What a horrible interview by CBS. It was so negative and dark. Rather than getting to know Justice Scalia and his thoughts, everything was framed as “Justice Scalia, you’re a jerk. Explain yourself.”

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