Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ginsburg on Scalia

Justice Ginsburg and Justice Scalia were at opposite poles on most matters of law; but they were extremely close friends. So it's unsurprising that Ginsburg's tribute to Scalia is perhaps the best tribute, coming as it does from someone who disagreed with him all the time but knew him better than almost anyone else:

Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: "We are different, we are one," different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots-the "applesauce" and "argle bargle"-and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh. The press referred to his "energetic fervor," "astringent intellect," "peppery prose," "acumen," and "affability," all apt descriptions. He was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader's grasp.

Justice Scalia once described as the peak of his days on the bench an evening at the Opera Ball when he joined two Washington National Opera tenors at the piano for a medley of songs. He called it the famous Three Tenors performance. He was, indeed, a magnificent performer. It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend.

Both Scalia and Ginsburg shared an enthusiasm for opera; when this became more widely known, a law student, Derrick Wang, asked them if he could make a short comic opera based on their disagreements. They both replied (as you might expect from Supreme Court lawyers) that he had every right to do so by the First Amendment, anyway -- but that even if he needed their permission, he certainly would have it. NPR had a story with some selections from the opera; you can find the libretto here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.