I confess an aversion to Antonin Scalia. To my mind, he is a smug, unctuous punk in a robe, a quack whose views of originalism make revolution seem like a good idea. Why should a bunch of dead and rebellious colonists constrain our vision of what is possible? Lots has changed in the past 200 years.
But he is member of the Supreme Court, and he is smart, and he writes well. So there are things to admire.
Of late I've been wondering if he's off his rocker, or if his meds need readjusting. His vision of the world seems to grow smaller as he ages. He is fast becoming the crabby old man of the Court, and he is not that old.
Consider his remarks at the University of Connecticut School of Law, where he is visiting relic of the week. He told students there about his proudest moment in the law. Now take a moment. Pretend you are the justice. What would be your choice?
I'll bet not one of you would say it was the decision to ignore the appearance of impropriety by means of facile hair-splitting. But that was Tony's choice. Listen to the jurist.
“The proudest thing I’ve done on the bench is not allowed myself to be chased off that case,” Scalia asserted. “It would have harmed the court” to give in to editorial writers and other critics, the justice added. “For Pete's sake, if you can't trust your Supreme Court justice more than that, get a life," he quipped.
Trust, trust, trust, trust, Tony mutters. Perhaps the founders were wrong to separate powers so; maybe they too were too suspicious.
The case in question involved Vice-President Dick Cheney. Cheney was a defendant in a case to be argued before the court. Scalia and Cheney went on a camping and hunting trip together just weeks after the Court decided to hear the case.
In Tony-world, there was no appearance of improriety because Cheney was sued in his official, and not his individual, capacity. Therefore, reasons Tony, there was no danger of bias toward a party whom Scalia admitted was “a good friend.”
The case involved Cheney’s demand that White House meetings with energy industry executives be kept confidential. No point in letting the rest of us know how much we sold out for and why. The Court ruled in favor of Cheney 7-2.
Scalia's decision hardly seems like legacy material. Rather it seems childishly defiant. Or perhaps Tony is serious and plans the following on his tombstone: Antonin Scalia, Stubborn Ass.