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FUMARE

Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"He was fun, for a conservative"

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke recently at Yale Law School. Here are some excerpts of the article:

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The Constitution is not a living document, although many courts and legal experts treat it as such today, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argued at a Yale Political Union debate on Thursday.

A staunch conservative and self-proclaimed "originalist," Scalia said the Constitution should be interpreted in terms of its text and the intentions of its framers, not in the context of personal beliefs or current societal conventions. While some students at the speech said they disagreed with the justice's argument, many said his eloquence and wit at the podium made his presentation compelling.

***

"I have no idea what the evolving standards of decency are," Scalia said. "I am afraid to inquire."

Scalia, who was originally slated to speak last fall, drew an over-capacity crowd in the Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall, where scores of students were turned away by Yale Police Department officers after the auditorium filled. YPU President Roger Low '07 said the Yale Law School did not allow the YPU to use the larger Levinson Auditorium for Scalia's speech, as it did for Rev. Al Sharpton's YPU address last month.

Scalia mixed legal argument with attempts at wit, drawing several roars of laughter from the crowd. He said originalism keeps everyone, even conservatives, in check.

"[Because of originalism] I cannot do the wicked conservative things I would want to do to this society," Scalia said.

Chandler Coggins '10 said he agreed with Scalia's approach to Constitutional interpretation and thought the justice presented an effective argument that proved persuasive even with a mostly liberal crowd.

"I was already in his camp, so, for me, he was preaching to the choir," he said. "But the most impressive aspect of his speaking style was how he really won the audience over."

***

Sophie Wolfram '10 said while she disagreed with Scalia's views, she said his remarks were more thought-provoking than previous arguments she has heard against the prevalent interpretation of the document.

[Ed. Hey Sophie, have you ever listened to any other originalist before? Scalia literally wrote the book on originalism, so I'm guessing you've never actually considered the originalist argument before.]

"There aren't very many people whom I'm going to listen to with as much respect as someone who's been on the Supreme Court for 20 years," she said. "He didn't sell me on it, but he made me listen more than anyone has before."

Sam Purdy '10 said Scalia made him rethink his view on how the Constitution should be interpreted.

"He's a brilliant man and he certainly showed that off tonight," Purdy said. "I don't think he was just putting up smoke and mirrors . . . I left thinking he's less of a conservative nut."

Regardless of whether they agreed with his views, many students said Scalia's witty and at times self-deprecating rhetoric was a departure from the somewhat villainous reputation the justice carries with liberals.

"He was fun, for a conservative," Chris Wihlidal '09 said.

[
Emphasis added.]

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My Comments: I think Yale Law students need to get out more. They'd be surprised that conservatives are normal people and are quite often exceptionally funny (You caught me, there I go talking about myself again).

What's further interesting is that a Nov. 13 ABC article on a recent speech by Chief Justice Roberts similarly describes Roberts as using "self-deprecating" humor: " With self-deprecating humor, Roberts explained the events leading up to his nomination . . ." (emphasis added.)

Wait a minute. I see what's going on here. Scalia and Roberts must have gotten "the memo" from the Bush White House (read -- Karl Rove) urging them to use "self-deprecating" humor so as to provide cover for their evil and sinister conservative beliefs.

And to think, they almost got away with it. Well, Scalia and Roberts can't fool me. I can see Rove's fingerprints from a mile away.

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