Originalism

SCOTUS: coming to a theater near you?

If you’re a legal geek who loves theater (I know I am), these are exciting times. Here in New York, you can check out a play in which a legal luminary’s daughter appears naked. Down in D.C. in a few weeks, you can attend Arguendo, the SCOTUS-themed play by Elevator Repair Service that’s being staged by the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. (I saw the play last year and enjoyed it.)

That’s not all. Also coming to Washington: a new play featuring a Supreme Court justice as its star….

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* Belgium has captured a real-life pirate king! But pirate kings just aren’t what they used to be. Something tells me Blackbeard wouldn’t have gone down because somebody said, “Hey, come back to England so we can make a movie about you.” [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* After a roller coaster malfunction killed a passenger, Six Flags responds by pointing the finger at someone else. They didn’t design or build the ride… they just bought it, promoted it, operated it, and profited off it, but they did not design or build it. [Houston Chronicle]

* At oral argument, Justice Scalia ripped a lawyer for thinking the Fourteenth Amendment was designed to protect minority rights against a white majority. As Scalia notes, “that was the argument in the early years…. But I thought we rejected that.” Leave it to Justice Scalia to point out that no one makes decisions based on the publicly known original intent of the drafters of constitutional provisions from 150 years ago. That would just be silly. Now, if we’re talking 200 years ago… [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* A Texas judge is reprimanded for trying to pull strings for a friend. Unfortunately, it seems like he’s also really bad at pulling strings. [Legal Juice]

* Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp has started a fashion industry law blog. Ooh Law Law. Oh, I see what you did there. [Ooh Law Law]

* Judge Posner, who authored the decision that framed the entire voter ID debate by casting doubt that the laws could be used to disenfranchise voters, tells HuffPo Live’s Mike Sacks that he was completely wrong. Judge Posner explains that events have confirmed that voter ID laws are really all about disenfranchising poor and minority voters. Ever the empiricist that Posner guy. Full video after the jump… [New York Times]

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Justice Antonin Scalia

Everyone’s talking right now about New York Magazine’s fascinating and fantastic interview with Justice Antonin Scalia. Some of what’s covered will be familiar to longstanding Scalia groupies, but some of it will be new. In a wide-ranging discussion with Jennifer Senior, Justice Scalia discusses everything from his pet peeves (like women cursing, or majority opinions that ignore the dissent); whether he has any gay friends; his tastes in television (hint: “No soup for you!”); and his desire to hire more law clerks from “lesser” law schools.

The whole thing is worth reading, but here are ten highlights to whet your appetite:

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Justice Scalia (left) and Judge Posner

Responding to a Supreme Court Justice who calls one a liar requires special care in expression.

– Judge Richard Posner, in a cover email introducing his written response to Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent “You lie!” accusation.

(More about this tiff, which we’ve been covering quite closely here at Above the Law, after the jump.)

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Justice Scalia (left) and Judge Posner

I’m not going to get into this whole thing written for a glossy magazine.

– Justice Antonin Scalia, responding to a question about his thoughts on Judge Richard Posner’s somewhat critical review, in the New Republic, of the justice’s new book, Reading Law (affiliate link).

(We attended Scalia’s talk, which took place this afternoon and was sponsored by the New York City Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society. Additional highlights from the eminently quotable justice’s remarks, after the jump.)

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Protesting Justice Scalia at Wesleyan.

Yesterday I wrote about Justice Antonin Scalia delivering the distinguished Hugo Black Lecture at Wesleyan University. In my write-up of Justice Scalia’s remarks, I alluded to campus protests held immediately prior to the speech. These protests, by a group calling itself the “Scalia Welcoming Committee,” were styled “Occupy Scalia” (a somewhat unfortunate moniker, in my view.)

I took some photographs and video footage of the protestors. Check these people out….

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Justice Scalia speaking last night at Wesleyan University.

Last night, Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the prestigious Hugo Black Lecture at Wesleyan University, speaking in the university’s Memorial Chapel before a packed house. Wesleyan is an uber-liberal school — the basis for the movie PCU, about a very Politically Correct University — and Justice Scalia’s visit was preceded by campus protests (dubbed “Occupy Scalia”). But I was pleasantly surprised by how respectful and appreciative the audience was of Justice Scalia’s deeply thoughtful and persuasive remarks; the protests during his speech were minor and clustered near the end.

I trekked up to Middletown from New York City to attend the lecture. What did Justice Scalia have to say? And what did the protests entail?

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Clarence Thomas set the table for the tea party by making originalism fashionable again.

Berkeley Law professor John Yoo, in an interesting Wall Street Journal piece discussing how his former boss, Justice Clarence Thomas, has defended the Constitution and embraced originalism during his twenty years on the high court.

I think [New York pizza] is infinitely better than Washington pizza, and infinitely better than Chicago pizza. You know these deep-dish pizzas — it’s not pizza. It’s very good, but … call it tomato pie or something. … I’m a traditionalist, what can I tell you?

— Justice Antonin Scalia, in an interview with California Lawyer magazine (via Josh Blackman, who identifies additional highlights from the interview).

The drafters could have written the Constitution as a list of specific rules and said, “That’s all, folks!” Instead, they wrote a document full of broadly written guarantees….

– Time magazine columnist Adam Cohen, criticizing Justice Antonin Scalia’s approach to constitutional interpretation. (Gavel bang: Dahlia Lithwick.)

(Please note that Quotes of the Day are selected for being interesting, thought-provoking, or funny — not because we necessarily agree with them. Personally I’m inclined to the view that originalism isn’t perfect but is probably better than any of the alternatives.)