In Conversation: Antonin Scalia

On September 26—a day that just happened to be the 27th anniversary of his swearing-in as associate justice—Antonin Scalia entered the Supreme Court’s enormous East Conference Room so casually that one might easily have missed him. He is smaller than his king-size persona suggests, and his manner more puckish than formal. Washingtonians may know Scalia as charming and disarming, but most outsiders tend to regard him as either a demigod on stilts or a menace to democracy, depending on which side of the aisle they sit. A singularity on the Court and an icon on the right, Scalia is perhaps more responsible than any American alive for the mainstreaming of conservative ideas about ­jurisprudence—in particular the principles of originalism ­(interpreting the Constitution as the framers intended it rather than as an evolving document) and textualism (that statutes must be ­interpreted based on their words alone). And he has got to be the only justice to ever use the phrase “argle-bargle” in a dissent...


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