On Adoration: Jennifer Senior interviews Justice Scalia a comment by Political Cynic

Is adoration the wrong word? Some examples of the questions:

‘While your opinions are are delectable to read…’, ‘Is your favorite one-liner still the ­sausage one?’, ‘Fifty years from now, which decisions in your tenure do you think will be heroic? ‘

One wishes that a real interview with Justice Scalia might be conducted by an intellectual antagonist or at the least a more  tenacious inquirer.

The singularity of the Patriarchal apologetics of Justice Scalia are well documented, and his interview with Ms. Senior is a record of his political/moral enthusiasms. The justice worships at alter of white male power: the President, the Pope, an emboldened reactionary judiciary wedded to a narrative of moral/political  decline. The standard Conservative myth-making.  Thus the cult of Neo-Confederate Originalism as the new standard of legal opinion in the wake of Reaganism, and the re-invigoration of pre-bellum political romanticism as the New Jim Crow, that is  the expression of a deeply held sense of lost power, and a re-invigorated push, to return to not an actual past, but a politically useful re-construction.

Here is a quote regarding ‘textualism’ as opposed to ‘legislative intent’ that is instructive as to the politically self-serving practice of ‘Originalism’ .

‘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.’

What we are to value is not the ‘legislative intent’ of contemporary law makers but the backward  looking political/rhetorical schema of political romantics, who have constructed a self-serving halcyon past, in service to an unenlightened political present.

For a demonstration of Justice Scalia’s defense of ‘Traditional Values’ i.e. Patriarchal Values, writ in a revelatory domestic context,  see Minding the Law, page 77, The Case of Michael H., in which the Justice defends the right of the Husband against the interloper,the outsider, in the drama of the sacred marriage bond.

Here is a section of Shelby County v Holder majority opinion by Justice Roberts,  that has been edited and revised , indeed punched up, by Justice Scalia. It has the cartoonish quality that is pure Scalia:

The dissent also turns to the record to argue that, in light of voting discrimination in Shelby County, the county cannot complain about the provisions that subject it to pre-clearance. Post, at 23–30. But that is like saying that a driver pulled over pursuant to a policy of stopping all redheads cannot complain about that policy, if it turns out his license has expired. Shelby County’s claim is that the coverage formula here is unconstitutional in all its applications, because of how it selects the jurisdictions subjected to pre-clearance. The county was selected based on that formula, and may challenge it in court.

Read the full interview here: http://nymag.com/news/features/antonin-scalia-2013-10/

Political Cynic

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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