Harvard Law School remembers Justice Scalia


Credit: Martha Stewart

Justice Scalia will be remembered as one of the most influential jurists in American history — he changed how the Court approaches statutory interpretation, and in countless areas introduced new ways of thinking about the Constitution and the role of the Court that will remain important for years to come.

–Dean Martha Minow


With the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia has come an outpouring of remembrances and testaments to his transformative presence during his thirty years on the Court.

Scalia didn’t score the touchdowns. He redefined the playing field

An op-ed by Laurence TribeSuffice it to say that in spite of our disagreements, I invariably found Justice Scalia’s thinking and prodding to be brilliantly generative of important insights into the way law and legal interpretation ought to proceed. Even though I debated the justice repeatedly – both in academic settings, like my response to his Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Princeton University (resulting in his 1997 book, A Matter of Interpretation), and in oral arguments at the Supreme Court, where I appeared before him and his colleagues dozens of times over the course of his 30-year tenure – I never ceased to enjoy the encounters immensely and never failed to benefit hugely from them, even when his inherent advantage left a bittersweet aftertaste. He was, after all, a U.S. Supreme Court justice and wielded a vote on that august tribunal and great influence within it, while I was a mere scholar and advocate.

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How Justice Scalia transformed court

An op-ed by Richard Lazarus: Justice Antonin Scalia joined the bench 30 years ago, this coming September. From his first days on the bench on that first Monday of October to his final days just a few weeks ago, Scalia changed the Supreme Court and its rulings. But his influence was far more profound and transformative than the many significant individual rulings he authored and those that he joined. Justice Scalia did no less than change the nature of legal argument before the Court and opinion writing by the Court.

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The Scalia I Knew Will Be Greatly Missed

An op-ed by Cass Sunstein: Antonin Scalia was witty, warm, funny, and full of life. He was not only one of the most important justices in the nation’s history; he was also among the greatest. … But his greatness does not lie solely in his way with words. Nor does it have anything to do with conventional divisions between liberals and conservatives (or abortion, or same-sex marriage). Instead it lies in his abiding commitment to one ideal above any other: the rule of law.

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Death of a judicial giant

“Nino was memorably smart, gregarious, funny, playful — a good pal — as well as plainly serious about his studies,” recalled Frank Michelman, the Robert Walmsley University Professor emeritus at Harvard, whose friendship with Scalia began in 1957 when they entered HLS together. The two shared an office while working on the Law Review. “We talked about everything that came along, and I had no inkling then of differences between us over matters legal or political that developed or became apparent later.

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Justice Scalia Came Close to Greatness

An op-ed by Noah FeldmanAntonin Scalia will go down as one of the greatest justices in U.S. Supreme Court history — and one of the worst. His greatness derived from his carefully articulated philosophy of constitutional interpretation, based on the law as a set of rules that should be applied in accordance with the original meaning of the document. Yet on issues from race to gay rights to the environment, his reactionary conservatism consistently put him on the wrong side of constitutional law’s gradual progressive evolutionary path. To put it bluntly, Scalia’s reasoning was almost always beautiful and elegant, but his results were almost always wrong. Scalia, who died Saturday at 79, could be acerbic at a personal level. His biting humor often had a sarcastic edge, and he alienated Justice Sandra Day O’Connor by dismissing the quality of her analytic reasoning. At the same time, one of my fondest memories is an afternoon spent drinking two bottles of red wine and eating pizza at A.V. Ristorante, a now-defunct Italian spot in Washington, with Scalia and my fellow clerks for Justice David Souter, liberals all. Scalia was relaxed, warm and witty — charm itself, trading ideas and arguments and treating us with complete equality. I remember thinking that if this was the devil, he certainly assumed a most pleasing form.

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Antonin Scalia remembered for close ties to Harvard

Antonin Scalia once vowed to Alan Dershowitz that he would someday convince the Harvard scholar that the Supreme Court’s decision to effectively award the presidency to George W. Bush was correct. … Law School Dean Martha Minow also described Scalia as “one of the most influential jurists in American history.” “He changed how the court approaches statutory interpretation and in countless areas introduced new ways of thinking about the Constitution and the role of the court that will remain important for years to come,” Minow said in a statement.

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Antonin Scalia: liberal clerks reflect on the man they knew and admired

Another hallmark was the annual hiring of a liberal clerk, several of whom spoke to the Guardian about their personal fondness for Scalia despite glaring ideological differences.“You read his opinions and especially his dissents, and you’d think he’d be the Ted Cruz of the supreme court, completely acerbic. Yet he was loved by his colleagues,” Scalia’s former clerk and noted Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig told the Guardian. “I asked him about it once, and he said: ‘Because I’m consistently so outspoken and extreme in my writing, no one is offended. If Justice [Lewis] Powell didn’t smile at you one day, you’d think he was furious at you.’”

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Even when inconsistent, Justice Scalia was certain

An op-ed by Nancy GertnerI did not know Justice Antonin Scalia. Following the announcement of his death, I could not help but be struck by the accounts of his warmth, his friendships (notably with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, with whom he regularly disagreed on the Supreme Court), his deep religious commitment, his infectious sense of humor. I knew him through his opinions, books, and speeches. Even though I disagreed with him much of the time, one thing is clear: His legal positions could not be ignored — not by lawyers, scholars, judges, nor the public. I had to take them seriously in my own judicial decisions and in my writing. And the need to deal with his arguments shifted the debate, even the outcomes.

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