March 10, 2011
Happy Birthday Justice Scalia?
Linda Greenhouse points out that Friday March 11 is Scalia's 75th birthday, but her wishes are not necessarily warm ones.
Instead, Greenhouse discusses Scalia's "bullying" of his junior colleagues, notably the female ones. She focuses on Scalia's dissenting opinion in Michigan v. Bryant, which the only other dissenter, Ginsburg, did not join, and which was aimed at a majority opinion written by Sotomayor. She also recounts Scalia's scathing reaction to O'Connor, when O'Connor was new and the first woman Justice, on the subject of abortion, noting that Scalia did not ultimately prevail.
Greenhouse sums up Scalia's almost 25 years on the Court as ones in which he "has cast a long shadow but has accomplished surprisingly little."
The notable exception - - - and some would say it is a rather large one - - - is District of Columbia v. Heller, revivifying the Second Amendment.
[image of Antonin Scalia, via]
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At Volokh Conspiracy blog, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr answers the question "what do Scalia's dissents accomplish?" somewhat differently. He writes in part:
Scalia has explained that his goal in writing dissents isn’t to “bully” his colleagues, but rather to influence future generations of law students who then become the next generation of lawyers and judges
. . . .
[t]he main test for Scalia’s dissents is not whether they worked with the current Justices, but whether they influence the law in the future. As a former professor, Scalia knows what he’s doing, I think. He knows how to write a dissent in a way that is likely to be excerpted at considerable length in a casebook, and he knows how to write in a way that is very entertaining for bored law students to read. By writing a sharp, even overheated dissent, Scalia may sometimes annoy his colleagues. But he also ensures that the issue in the case will be debated in law schools in significant part on his terms, which I think is a pretty significant accomplishment.
Posted by: J. Zak Ritchie | Mar 11, 2011 5:49:55 AM
It is clear that Justice Scalia does not write for his colleagues on the Court. I am not so sure he writes for future generations of lawyers and judges either. It seems to me he writes for the Wall Street Journal editorial page and its ilk.
Posted by: Mike Zimmer | Mar 11, 2011 10:41:32 PM