Tag: Posner

Remembering an Evening with Scalia: Textualism, Sandwiches, and Tomato Pie


A few years ago, Scalia spent an evening with our local chapter of the Federalist Society, giving a talk loosely based on his latest book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts, with lively Q&A to follow.

I was in graduate school at the time – not law school – and I remember my first thought being, “Dress up. You know how lawyers are, and it’s not every day you meet a Supreme Court justice.” So wearing my best blouse and skirt, I arrived at the posh library hosting the event – and immediately proceeded to feel like a dirty hippie: Lawyers dress sharp. Conservative lawyers even more so – and even sharper for an occasion like this one. Though out of my element, and handicapped somewhat by lack of shorthand skills, I did manage to scribble down several notes and quotes, and I thought I’d share some of the more legible ones with you. As the course of the evening made clear, Scalia is an eminently quotable guy, so let’s start with his own words:

Memo to Judge Posner: Tradition Proves A Lot


shutterstock_162913184A couple weeks ago, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down statutes in Indiana and Wisconsin that limited marriage to one man and one woman. It’s pretty much “same stuff, different day,” and I’m not much interested in substance of the decision. The way things are going, national same-sex marriage is all but inevitable, though it’s troubling that the issue should be resolved in federal court. As I read the Constitution, this is an archetypal issue for the states, but that’s probably a losing cause (at least in the short term) now that unelected judges with a clear agenda have asserted their powers as Philosopher Kings.

However, the Court did a great deal more than just overturn the collective wisdom of the electorate in Indiana and Wisconsin. The Court basically eliminated “tradition” as a restraint on power and, by extension, engaged in a preemptive strike against those who think the past is a road map to the present and the future. I’d go so far as to say that the Court has initiated a war against humanity.

Liberals, and some libertarians, are gaga over the rough treatment the court gave to the Assistant Attorney General who argued for the restriction. Columnist Steve Chapman laughed it up in a column at Reason, but this really isn’t a laughing matter.