U.S. Supreme Court

Scalia was rejected by two schools; Dad told him schools without all smart kids might be better

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File photo of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia courtesy of ABA Media Services.

Justice Antonin Scalia—under fire for his reference to the argument that some blacks might do better at “slower-track” schools—was himself rejected by two schools.

Scalia was rejected by his first-choice high school and by Princeton University, according to a book by Supreme Court journalist Joan Biskupic. The Daily Beast has a story.

Scalia got good grades in elementary school, but failed the entrance exam for the Jesuit-run Regis High School in Manhattan. Scalia told Biskupic that his father saw the bright side. Scalia’s dad said it might be better to be at a school where students had a range of abilities and weren’t all “brains.” Scalia later graduated first in his class at a different high school.

Scalia was rejected a second time when he applied to Princeton University. Years later, Scalia gave this reason for his rejection: “I was an Italian boy from Queens, not quite the Princeton type.” He went to Georgetown University instead and once again was first in his class.

Bruce Allen Murphy, author of a different book about Scalia, told the Daily Beast he doesn’t think those rejections had much to do with Scalia’s comments about slower-track schools. Instead, he said, Scalia makes comments that are intentionally inflammatory, partly to provoke the media.

“Scalia’s been doing this kind of thing on a fairly regular basis since 2006” after he was passed over for chief justice, Murphy said.

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