Most judicial writing is so bad, riddled with jargon and bloviation, that only people paid to do so would ever bother to read it. The late Justice Antonin Scalia was the exception to this rule. His writing was vibrant, free from both cant and jargon, and often extremely amusing. Bruce T. Murray at Sage Law.US has compiled some of Justice Scalia’s greatest hits:
“Those who wish to create indecent and disrespectful art are as unconstrained now as they were before the enactment of this statute. Avant-garde artistes such as respondents remain entirely free to épater les bourgeois; they are merely deprived of the additional satisfaction of having the bourgeoisie taxed to pay for it. It is preposterous to equate the denial of taxpayer subsidy with measures aimed at the suppression of dangerous ideas.”
— National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley, 525 U.S. 569 (1998) (Scalia, J., concurring)
“All the provisions of the Bill of Rights set forth the rights of individual men and women – not, for example, of trees or polar bears.”
— Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310, 391-392 (2010)
“If forbidding peaceful, nonthreatening, but uninvited speech from a distance closer than eight feet is a ‘narrowly tailored’ means of preventing the obstruction of entrance to medical facilities (the governmental interest the State asserts), narrow tailoring must refer not to the standards of Versace, but to those of Omar the Tentmaker.”
— Hill v. Colo., 530 U.S. 703, 749 (2000)
Go here to read the rest.
My personal favorite is from footnote 22 of his blistering dissent in the gay marriage case:
“If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”
That was a Scalia! When shall we have another?