Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in his sleep Saturday. Justice Scalia is my favorite justice; I feel sorry for everyone that he’s gone. He was a brilliant legal mind and he really cared about the Constitutional framework. He was consistent, as his supporters and detractors will tell you. If you knew the text of the Constitution, you knew how Scalia would vote.
Scalia had absolute confidence in his ability to discern truth from chaos, and relished a stormy disagreement now and then. For those of us who are never sure of ourselves, this seems almost like magical alchemy.
He was a fun guy to be around. He often brought humor to boring legal proceedings, and was always a key player in the more interesting ones. I started listening to oral arguments after first enjoying outtakes on Amicus podcast. It wasn’t until I realized how much Slate manipulated the recordings that I started listening to the full recordings on the scotus blog. Shout out to Slate’s blatant bias!
Speaking of Amicus, it was strange Slate chose to eulogize Justice Scalia with a Very Special podcast hosted by three leftists who typically froth at the mouth whenever he is mentioned: Dahlia Lithwick, Emily Bazalon, and the dour David Plotz. (Somehow “dour” and “David Plotz” go together like peanut butter and jelly.) After deploring Scalia’s political incorrectness, they eagerly moved on to how much damage the Republicans might do to themselves, should they refuse to confirm anyone President Obama nominates.
Oh my God. I’ve got no faith in Barack Obama to nominate a decent human being, much less someone who could replace Scalia. The thought of Antonin Scalia being replaced with another ideologue like Sonia Sotomayor makes me feel weak and sick to my stomach. It’s like replacing lobster with chicken McNuggets. Telling Whitney Houston to shut up because Will Hung wants to sing. Sotomayor is a giant paint-by-number scotch-taped to a wall in the Louvre, right over Scalia’s da Vinci.
You may know Justice Clarence Thomas never speaks during oral arguments? He still authors sharp opinions and dissents but not a word does he say. But I recently learned he used to offer the occasional remark or question. Why did he stop? It turns out it’s because he is so annoyed by the “other justices” (I think we can guess who) continuously interrupting. So he’s quiet to even things out. Sorry, Justice Thomas, but it would take four monasteries under eternal vows of silence to make up for an afternoon with Sonia Sotomayor.
If you listen to oral arguments, opening statements rarely proceed further than 2 sentences before Justices Ginsburg or Sotomayor leap in to interrupt the speaker as he or she attempts to provide context, demanding they address some detailed aspect of the case. If it’s a Ginsburg interruption, consider yourself fortunate. She will push her point of view with one or two questions then listen to what shakes out. Sotomayor will interrupt dozens of times, barking questions, refusing to listen to the answers, sparring with the attorneys, throwing around opinions and anecdotes about herself. Last term, Chief Justice Roberts gave one of the attorneys extra time to speak since Sotomayor literally talked over him his entire allotted time.
I sympathize with Justice Thomas, who is clearly longing for some distant sepia-toned Sotomayor-less past.
But like a fool, I hadn’t thought of how Sonia Sotomayor could prove useful. She could turn a great Libertarian dream into reality. There is no one on earth who could be a better poster child for Why Term Limits Benefit Everyone.
I did an even worse job of eulogizing Justice Scalia than Slate, which is kind of remarkable. What can I say? Did you know he was an only child and his nickname was Nino? He was appointed by Ronald Reagan and served on the court for 29 years. He and his wife had nine children. They were good friends with Justice Ginsburg and her husband and the couples frequented the opera together.
I will miss Antonin Scalia for a long time to come. It’s a little comforting to think that wherever he is, he is probably amused at the panic his death is causing on both sides of the aisle.
Rest in peace, Justice Scalia.