October 7, 2013

IF THERE WERE SIX OF HIM THEY'D WRITE SIX OPINIONS:

In Conversation: Antonin Scalia : On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, the firebrand justice discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy ("I don't"). ( Jennifer Senior, Oct 6, 2013, New York)

Had you already arrived at originalism as a philosophy?

I don't know when I came to that view. I've always had it, as far as I know. Words have meaning. And their meaning doesn't change. I mean, the notion that the Constitution should simply, by decree of the Court, mean something that it didn't mean when the people voted for it--frankly, you should ask the other side the question! How did they ever get there?

But as law students, they were taught that the Constitution evolved, right? You got that same message consistently in class, yet you had other ideas. 

I am something of a contrarian, I suppose. I feel less comfortable when everybody agrees with me. I say, "I better reexamine my position!" I probably believe that the worst opinions in my court have been unanimous. Because there's nobody on the other side pointing out all the flaws.

Really? So if you had the chance to have eight other justices just like you, would you not want them to be your colleagues?

No. Just six.

That was a serious question! 

What I do wish is that we were in agreement on the basic question of what we think we're doing when we interpret the Constitution. I mean, that's sort of rudimentary. It's sort of an embarrassment, really, that we're not. But some people think our job is to keep it up to date, give new meaning to whatever phrases it has. And others think it's to give it the meaning the people ratified when they adopted it. Those are quite different views.

Posted by at October 7, 2013 2:00 PM
  

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