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Published: July 18th 2005
Scalia really wanted a picture with me to prove to all his friends that he met me
Its 7:20 am here, and I just turned in my final for Scalia (having not slept for 24 hours - dirka dirka excruciating experience), so I thought this would be an appropriate time to do my Blog on Scalia.
Scalia’s class ended on Friday - we have new classes starting today. He was a good teacher. Very animated and never hesitated in being direct and blunt on all matters. That was a refreshing change from the other two Justices I met this year; both Thomas and Ginsberg were interesting, but guarded in terms of expressing opinions and discussing the inner-workings of the Court. Scalia was definitely unafraid to be very un-PC. He had colorful things to say - once referred to a former high ranking government official in a hilarious way. ----- Time out ----- I have to relay something my new professor just said cause it’s a stereotypical answer of a legal academic - someone just asked him a question, and he responded:
“its obviously a factual question, which, at some level, would probably get answered.”
Anyway, back to Nino. It was interesting to hear how decisions came out the way they did from an insider.
He came off as very intelligent and quick-witted, but he had a colloquial manner which surprised me- that’s not exactly the right way to convey what I mean to say - another way to say it is that if I met him without knowing anything about him, I’d think he was the son of a dockworker rather than of a classics professor.
Like I referred to before, he was very animated. A phrase he always used is “that’s spinach!” to refer to something that he thought was a weak argument. It was funny when he would make fun of decisions he disagreed with. He was very energetic and deliberate in general - always seemed to speed walk wherever he was going. He smokes, and when we’d have a 10 minute break, he’d hustle out and chain smoke 2 cigs, which surprised most of us.
He is incredibly single-minded - he clearly has a binary view of the world. He always feels there is an absolutely right and wrong approach to everything. A weakness I thought he had as a teacher is that he was very dismissive of viewpoints that were not his own, and he seemed unable to present two sides of an argument. On the other hand, I though he was very good at illuminating the material. I actually tend to prefer the approach he takes to Constitutional law - adhering strictly to the Constitution - to the more “flexible” approach. The Constitution provides a means for amendment (I can think of a couple areas in which I’d like to see it amended), and stretching the plain meaning of the text to respond to currently perceived needs fundamentally weakens the document in my opinion . I don’t always agree with the conclusions he arrives at, or his extensive reliance on historical evidence of the beliefs of the framers (the framers were lawyers - they knew that a governing legal document had meaning independent of the state of mind of those who created it), but I agree with his fundamental premise of strict adherence to the document.
He assigned an insane amount of material for a one credit course, and I had to work for 22 hours straight to finish his final, but I learned a lot.
That’s all I have to say about that.
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