We’re a day late; Justice Antonin Scalia turned 71 yesterday, on March 11. But better late than never. Does anyone know how Nino celebrated this august occasion?
On the subject of Justice Scalia’s age, here’s an interesting squib from Jan Crawford Greenburg’s most excellent new book, Supreme Conflict, describing how Justice Scalia edged out Judge Robert Bork as a SCOTUS nominee:
[T]he politics of the nomination turned on age and compatibility. Scalia edged out Bork on both. “It came down to the ten years,” one top official later explained. Scalia was almost a decade younger than Bork, and even though he smoked and drank, he also exercised regularly. [DOJ official William Bradford] Reynolds and his team concluded that Scalia was likely to be on the Court longer than Bork because he was in better health — an important consideration if Scalia was to be Reagan’s last nomination.
Greenburg argues that nominating Scalia before Bork was a big mistake:
By nominating Scalia first, alongside the controversial Rehnquist, the White House used up all its political advantages. With Reagan at the height of his popularity and Republicans controlling the Senate, Bork would have been confirmed alongside Rehnquist — leaving the more loquacious and charming Scalia to emerge for the next nomination, all but daring senators to reject the court’s first Italian American nominee.
Hindsight is 20/20; but JCG is probably right about this. And considering that both Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork are alive and well today, in seemingly excellent health, both men would presumably have enjoyed long tenures on the Court had President Reagan switched the order of their nominations.
Happy birthday to Justice Antonin Scalia [How Appealing]