U.S. Supreme Court

Scalia on '60 Minutes': A Regular Joe

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia came across as a regular, albeit brainy, guy on Sunday night’s 60 Minutes profile. In his exclusive ABA Journal interview and in excerpts from his new book, he shows a different side of his personality, offering lawyers his counsel on how to write a brief and argue their cases.

The Journal coverage includes our exclusive interview, excerpts from his book Making Your Case, a podcast of the interview, a complete transcript of the conversation, plus a look inside the interview.

The 60 Minutes segment described to the book as “surprisingly breezy.”

“You almost make it sound like lawyers are imbeciles,” said 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl.

“You would be surprised,” a smiling Scalia replied.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia came across as a regular, albeit brainy, guy on Sunday night’s 60 Minutes profile. Among the justice’s choicest quotes:

[Originalism is] what did the words mean to the people who ratified the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

Society doesn’t change through a constitution. It changes through laws.

I’m not saying no to progress, I’m saying we should progress democratically.

The Constitution is meant to impede change.

I’m a social conservative, but it doesn’t affect my views on cases.

I can be charming and combative at the same time. It may well be that I’m something of a contrarian.

If you let counsel just stand up there and talk, he’s just going to regurgitate his brief.

I don’t like torture, but defining it will be a nice trick. Everything that is hateful and odious is not covered by the Constitution. [He was asked is it cruel and unusual punishment.] Has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? When [a policeman is] hurting you to get information from you, you don’t say he’s punishing you. Anyway, that’s my view, and it happens to be correct.

The next nominee to the court will be a female Protestant Hispanic. If you can find that woman, she’s in.

Whatever my faults are, I am not wishy-washy.

After a while, I’m saying the same things in today’s dissent that I said in the dissent 20 years ago.

At the end of a term, it’s usually a disappointment [because he writes so often in dissent].

[Schoolchildren come to the court and repeat what they’ve been told, that the Constitution is a living document.] I have to tell them it’s a dead document.

I can’t think of any other job that I would find as interesting and as satisfying.

Extensive portions of the Scalia segment have been posted on Yahoo News.

ABA Journal coverage:

Exclusive ABA Journal interview

Excerpts from Making Your Case

Podcast of the interview

Complete transcript

Inside the Scalia Interview

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