Antonin Scalia is by far the Supreme Court’s greatest wit and most colorful personality. When I choose audio clips from the Court’s oral arguments to play in my constitutional law classes, I would like to offer a balanced sample of views from the left and right sides of the Court. But I cannot resist loading up on Scalia sound bites, because in almost every major case he serves up the sharpest questioning and most imaginative hypotheticals. His judicial opinions are also remarkably passionate and frank. If he thinks a lawyer’s or even a fellow Justice’s argument is nonsense, he will bluntly say so. He has received intense criticism for supposedly being “too political” in some of his opinions, such as his scorching dissent in last year’s case about Arizona laws aimed at illegal immigrants or his bitter denunciation of the Court’s last major ruling on the detention of suspected terrorists. But what purpose is really served by judges hiding their motivations behind a false veneer of detachment and stilted formalism?
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