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It's not easy being Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 18th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

US Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia is sparring with a lower-court judge over comments made about a book Scalia co-authored. Judge Richard Posner of the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals says Scalia lied in his book about how he interprets law in his review published in The New Republic. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The book, "Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts," talks about "textual originalism," a philosophy that means judges should follow an interpretation of a law as it was originally intended by its framers. 

In other words, laws do not change with time, even if the zeitgeist is different. This is an ultra-conservative viewpoint, although not all decisions reflect a modern conservative philosophy.  

Posner argued that Scalia deviated from this philosophy when he struck down a 2008 Washington D.C. handgun ban. Posner also accused Scalia and his co-author, legal scholar Bryan Garner, of doing "sloppy research."

Scalia fired back, saying that Posner could only get away with such arguments because he was writing for a lay audience, and a legal one. 

"You can get away with it in The New Republic, I suppose, but not to a legal audience," Scalia said. 

Scalia defended his position. He gave an example of the death penalty and how a textual originalism approach would conclude that it is not cruel and unusual. He explained that at the time the cruel and unusual clause was added to the Constitution, capital punishment was standard, therefore it could never be cruel and unusual in itself, because the people at the time the clause was written apparently had no issue with the death penalty. 

Scalia says his approach is principled and argued that it is not always an inherently conservative thing. "I should be the pinup of the criminal defense bar," he said. Scalia was referring to this record of guaranteeing the rights of the accused to a trial by jury and to confront witnesses against them. 

Scalia also explained that most of the courts time is not spent arguing over the attention-grabbing issues often reported in the headlines, but often over mundane points of law and the fine details of things like the Internal Revenue Code. 

In other words, it's not easy being Antonin Scalia so, critics should take that into consideration before scribbling. 

 

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