Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Scalia makes me smile

Some of you know that Justice Scalia is my favorite Supreme Court jurist. Many more of you don't care. And yet more of you will gasp in horror because Scalia is your least favorite jurist and you're not sure we can be friends after this. Some of you don't know who Justice Scalia is. See me about this immediately.

Anyway, the reason Scalia is my favorite justice is because he is, in my and all other credible opinions, the most playfully brilliant Justice on the Court. He is witty, he is combatitive, and he writes dissents that inspire you to text your law school buddies messages like "OMG, just rd Scalia dsnt in PGA. ROFL!!!"

Ok, we don't actually text each other messages like that. But you get the idea.

Right now I am reading Scalia Dissents, a collection of his most famous and clever dissents. In addition to being highly informative and great debate-fodder, it's just plain funny in places, especially when he gets into one of his trademark rants. You can identify a true Scalia rant by whether Every Word In A Phrase Is Capitalized or every-word-is-hyphenated. Also be on the look-out for references to historical or literary figures, such as the "Majority's Pollyannish nonsense."

In case it will be a few days before you can run out and read the book yourself, I am including ten of the good Scalia quotes I have come across already. Enjoy!

"Now the Senate is looking for 'moderate' judges, 'mainstream' judges. What is a moderate interpretation of the text? Halfway between what it really means and what you'd like it to mean?"

"“[The Freedom of Information Act is] the Taj Mahal of the Doctrine of Unanticipated Consequences, the Sistine Chapel of Cost-Benefit Analysis Ignored.”

"The Court's statement that it is 'tempting' to acknowledge the authoritativeness of tradition in order to 'curb the discretion of federal judges' is, of course, rhetoric rather than reality; no government official is 'tempted' to place restraints upon his own freedom of action, which is why Lord Acton did not say 'Power tends to purify.'"

"[W]e Justices must confront what is indeed an awesome responsibility. It has been rendered the solemn duty of the Supreme Court of the United States, laid upon it by Congress in pursuance of the Federal Government's power "[t]o regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States," to decide "What Is Golf?" I am sure that the Framers of the Constitution, aware of the 1457 edict of King James II of Scotland prohibiting golf because it interfered with the practice of archery, fully expected that sooner or later the paths of golf and government, the law and the links, would once again cross, and that the judges of this August Court would some day have to wrestle with that age-old jurisprudential question, for which their years of study in the law have so well prepared them: Is someone riding around a golf course from shot to shot really a golfer?"

"The Court must be living in another world. Day by day, case by case, it is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize."

"This Court seems incapable of admitting that some matters - any matters - are none of its business."

"Robert F. Kennedy used to say, 'Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not?'-- [the latter] outlook has become a far too common and destructive approach to interpreting the law."

"Like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again, frightening the little children and school attorneys of Center Moriches Union Free School District... Over the years, however, no fewer than five of the currently sitting Justices have, in their own opinions, personally driven pencils through the creature's heart (the author of today's opinion repeatedly), and a sixth has joined an opinion doing so. The secret of the Lemon test's survival, I think, is that it is so easy to kill. It is there to scare us (and our audience) when we wish it to do so, but we can command it to return to the tomb at will. Such a docile and useful monster is worth keeping around, at least in a somnolent state; one never knows when one might need him."

"This case, involving legal requirements for the content and labeling of meat products such as frankfurters, affords a rare opportunity to explore simultaneously both parts of Bismarck's aphorism that 'No man should see how laws or sausages are made.'"

"I am persuaded, therefore, that the Maryland procedure is virtually constitutional. Since it is not, however, actually constitutional, I would affirm the judgment of the Maryland Court of Appeals reversing the judgment of conviction."

And a bonus one: "The main business of a lawyer is to take the romance, the mystery, the irony, the ambiguity out of everything he touches."


Mom of Diverged said...

Come on, Scalia. How about "out of everything SHE touches."

E said...

Good thing I saw this before final jeopardy...otherwise I would have guessed that Scalia was a type of skin disease.

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