Sunday, February 14, 2016

R.I.P. Antonin Scalia

Marathon, FL

I'm disappointed by the shallow commentaries and editorials in today's papers about the death of Justice Scalia.  They, like much of the public, judge everything according to the eternal left/right struggle.  Scalia voted for this and against that.   In reality he was the intellectual lead for the whole court.

You may not know that Libby and I enjoy listening to the audio transcripts of Supreme Court oral arguments.   We try to listen to each and every case.   Most of them turn out to be terribly boring, and a small minority terribly exciting.  We have learned to respect all 8 of the Justices (Thomas is silent during oral arguments, so we can't form an opinion of him.) because they never slack off even in those boring cases.  They are extremely well prepared in their questions.

I think that the best testimony to Scalia's contribution came from his fellow justices.  Each case typically involves many issues, but one legal issue in particular is central and decisive.  Very often it is Scalia's intellect that brushes past all the distractions to find and express that central issue.  The tribute comes when the other justices (often Ginsberg and Kagan) pick up on Scalia's lead and press the lawyers to "answer Justice Scalia's question."   To repeat, the other justices, concurring or opposing, followed Scalia's lead to focus in on the most important question in each case.

IMO, Scalia was an intellectual giant.  He will be missed.


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