His dissents in Supreme Court decisions are legendary, a legal scholar meets a talk-radio blowhard.
In the here and now, Scalia is back in the news thanks to a recent interview in New York magazine. Some of the extensive reaction to the Q&A is here, here, here and elsewhere.
When asked,"Do you feel like you’re winning or losing the battle for constitutional interpretation?" Scalia replied:
I don’t know how much progress I’ve made on originalism. That’s to be seen. I do think originalism is more respectable than it was. But there’s still only two justices up here who are thoroughgoing originalists. I do think things are better than they were. For example, I truly thought I’d never see an originalist on the faculty of Harvard Law School. You know, everybody copies Harvard—that’s the big ship. There are now three originalists on the faculty, and I think I heard that they’ve just hired, or are considering hiring, a fourth. I mean, that’s amazing to me. Elena Kagan did that, and the reason she did it is that you want to have on your faculty representatives of all responsible points of view. What it means is that at least originalism is now regarded as a respectable approach to constitutional interpretation. And it really wasn’t twenty years ago, it was not even worth talking about in serious academic circles.
An area where I think I have made more progress is textualism. I think the current Court pays much more attention to the words of a statute than the Court did in the eighties. And uses much less legislative history. If you read some of our opinions from the eighties, my God, two thirds of the opinions were discussing committee reports and floor statements and all that garbage. We don’t do much of that anymore. And I think I have assisted in that transition.
File it away as more research material for a future book.