My Favorite Justice

“Every virtue is included in the idea of justice, and every just man is good.”


John Paul Stevens is the only U.S. Supreme Court justice to have graduated from the law school where I teach; Steven Breyer was one of my law-school teachers; David Souter may be the most adept at arcane constitutional-law doctrine; Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an astute feminist 14th-Amendment theorist; Anthony Kennedy appears to know the most about what is going on in Western European courts and looks as if he belongs in the House of Lords; Sandra Day O’Connor is the most mercurial and relishes her role as swing justice (even if she still behaves as if she were a state legislator); Chief Justice William Rehnquist is a fine administrator and has written several books about the Court that, for sheer readability and insight, put the paltry products of academic historians to shame; and Clarence Thomas (who came from the humblest beginnings) is the one most faithful to the inspired conceptions of the Constitution’s Framers.  For sheer smarts, for the subtle dig, and for the most fun, however, nobody comes close to Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

Most Americans probably know Scalia as the justice liberals and their media acolytes recently disparaged for going duck hunting with his pal Dick Cheney while a case involving the Vice President...

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