A Future Decline in Scalia's "Verbal Pyrotechnics"?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Future Decline in Scalia's "Verbal Pyrotechnics"?

Can we "expect to see less of (Justice) Scalia's verbal pyrotechnics in the future"? Slate.com's Conor Clark thinks so. In this article, he writes:
Last week, when Antonin Scalia found himself on the losing end of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld — the case invalidating the Bush administration's military commissions for Guantanamo detainees — the court's self-styled littérateur did what he does best: He blew his stack.

The court's interpretation of legislative history, he wrote, only makes sense if it "indulges the fantasy that Senate floor speeches are attended (like the Philippics of Demosthenes) by throngs of eager listeners, instead of being delivered (like Demosthenes' practice sessions on the beach) alone into a vast emptiness."

... That scolding tone, those deliciously overwrought metaphors: It's Catholic-school headmistress meets Vladimir Nabokov, and it's the lively, unapologetically stylish Scalia that avid court-watchers know and love.

But the opinions (Scalia wrote in the Hamdan and Marsh cases) stand out this term, not just for their colorful language and questionable etiquette. Such decisions are noteworthy because they have become increasingly rare.

The 2005 term might well mark the demise of more than just Bush's military commissions and mechanisms to enforce the exclusionary rule: It could also signal the decline of Antonin Scalia's literary style.
The entire article is here.

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