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Reading Antonin Scalia in New York

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By:Eugene Girin | May 16, 2014

The highlight of my time in law school - three years of varying degrees of dreariness and constant irritation was the visit of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The great jurist came to my nominally Catholic second-tier alma mater - I cannot help, but shudder at the latter word, so inappropriately used to describe a place of boredom, misery, and dashed hopes.

I have been an admirer of Scalia since the distant spring of 2004, when I realized that paleoconservatives exist in the world of the American judiciary - a rather evil institution, dominated by an assortment of revolting liberals like William Douglas and William Brennan, duplicitous "moderates" like Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter, and unqualified affirmative action appointees like Sonia "Wise Latina" Sotomayor. Scalia's sharp wit and unapologetic reliance on the Constitution and the laws and traditions of Western Civilization made me an early and dedicated admirer of the Sicilian from Queens. Of course, nearly all my classmates - the ones that even had a clue about the Constitution - looked up to the likes of the evil liberals of the Earl Warren Court.

Interestingly enough, Antonin Scalia went to PS 13 in the formerly European-American neighborhood of East Elmhurst in Queens where my young wife now works. And his son, the marvelous Fr. Paul Scalia is a dedicated reader and admirer of Chronicles. The saintly Fr. Scalia, was the one that visited Sam Francis in the last days of his life and reportedly, administered last rites to him.

Thankfully, the young professor who was kind enough to supervise my law school dissertation was an admirer of Antonin Scalia who organized his visit to my law school. This young professor, an Italian-American intellectual barely a decade older than me was pleasantly amused when I told him of my admiration for the Church of Rome and the Latin Mass.

My forty-two page, three hundred fifty-five footnote dissertation (known in academic newspeak as a "scholarly thesis") concerned Scalia's views on the death penalty and contrasted his views on the Eighth Amendment to those of his originalist critics. Side note: I would be happy to email my dissertation to interested readers, although, I recommend reading it after a couple of rather strong drinks. This rather tedious labor resulted in the only "A" grade I ever received in that vale of tears known as law school.  After all, the law school saying goes: "'A'students become law professors. 'B' students become judges. And 'C' students become rich". Cannot say I am holding my breath for a judicial appointment.

When Scalia came to my law school, he gave a speech with some rather robust criticism of the largely leftist law school mafia, which was met with irritated looks by the disheveled liberals on the faculty. Afterwards, the Supreme Court justice was honored with an Italian food and wine reception. I promptly filled up my glass with dry Italian wine and approached Justice Scalia under the watchful gaze of the overweight sentinels of the Secret Service. 

"Justice Scalia, what is your advice for traditionalist conservative law school students?", I asked, under the bewildered gazes of the liberals, who were even more shocked by the great jurist's wide and understanding smile in response to my question. 

"First of all, drink a lot", confidently asserted Antonin Scalia. "And keep fighting the good fight", said the Justice, looking over the hushed crowd of students and professors, adding triumphantly: "And remember, we will win in the end".

I followed his advice rather methodically, drinking at least five glasses of red Italian wine, sampling the antipasti with a healthy gusto, while gleefully preaching paleoconservatism to the gathered classmates and professors. Even law school was not a complete waste.



5/16/2014 02:37 PM

  Eugene, I would be pleased if Chronicles editors would give you my e-mail so I could read your work on the death penalty. I had a similar experience with Scalia almost 25 years ago -- especially this part; "robust criticism of the largely leftist law school mafia, which was met with irritated looks by the disheveled liberals on the faculty"

Kelsey H.
5/16/2014 02:51 PM

  If you are interested in having Eugene's dissertation e-mailed to you, please e-mail me at and I will forward them on to him.

Dan Hayes
Rego Park
5/16/2014 07:08 PM

  Justice Scalia is an altogether honorable, learned and witty man. Here are some examples of the latter. When NPR asked for permission to broadcast a speech he had given at New York's Jewish Theological Seminary, Scalia assented with the proviso that he did not wish to deprive NPR-listeners of their chances of well-deserved apoplexy upon hearing it. In that speech he also pointed out that Robert F. Kennedy's well publicized statement "I dream of things that never were and ask why not?" was the statement of a G B Shaw protagonist - the actual protagonist being Lucifer! I've always suspected that this little ditty was an inside joke at the expense of RFK by one of his speech writers; if so, being true poetic justice.

Eugene Girin
Forest Hills
5/16/2014 07:46 PM

  Robert, are a fellow bruised veteran of law school? Nice to see I'm not the only representative of the hated profession here.

Tom Piatak
5/16/2014 10:59 PM

  Appointing Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court is one of the best things Ronald Reagan ever did.


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