Tomorrow morning, Justice Scalia is coming to town. He and Justice Breyer are going to debate constitutional principles and statutory interpretation. Should be fun. (You can watch it here. They’ve done it before here.)
Though I’ve never met the man (and I plan to change that on Monday), Justice Scalia is, quite frankly, a bit of a jurisprudential idol for me. He is also a good model for a young Catholic lawyer, someone who has reached the height of his profession through hard work and faithfulness. (For the 60 Minutes interview, go here and here.)
Scalia’s brand of originalism is, to me, the most logical approach to constitutional interpretation. The idea that the Constitution is “alive” as others would have it (Breyer, for instance), is nonsensical. The Constitution may be applied to new situations–a war on terror, for instance–but the text itself is unchanging. Judges that have found principles in the Constitution that do not exist in the text of the Constitution (see Casey) disrupt the fundamental separation of powers outlined in that founding document. Judges that apply foreign law to usurp the Constitution in light of “evolving standards of decency in the progress of modern society,” threaten the stability of U.S. law (see Roper v. Simmons).
These tides of modern constitutional interpretation threaten the future of the Constitution. Scalia is the most notable of the stalwart protectors of the Constitution in our judiciary today. His is a life and interpretive philosophy worth emulating.
Scalia is also arguably the best mind and writer on the Court right now. His consistent (most of the time) application of tested jurisprudential principles comes with a healthy dose of history and a writing style that beats all others (see Scalia Dissents). His opinions are witty, winsome, and written with such passion that they are difficult to put down. (See his interviews on legal writing here, here, here, and here.)
I’ve been waiting for this event for a long time, and I’m excited for tomorrow. More on the discussion to come.