Margaret Talbot has a lengthy but fascinating profile of Justice Antonin Scalia in this week’s The New Yorker. The article itself is not on-line, but you can get an appetizer of it in this Q&A with Amy Davidson.
Just how conservative is Scalia?
I think we can surmise that socially he’s pretty conservative—anti-abortion, pro-death penalty, anti-affirmative action, and so on. And that is how he votes on those issues on the Court. He would emphasize, though, that he does not reach these conclusions because they are the ones he’d prefer as a matter of policy—what he would prefer as a policy matter is, he would say, entirely irrelevant-but because, after reading the words of the Constitution or of a statute, that was the conclusion he had to reach. And it’s true that he sometimes comes to conclusions that don’t seem to comport with his own political or social beliefs. He likes to cite his vote in a flag-burning case, for instance, when he voted with liberals on the Court to protect flag desecration as symbolic political speech. “Scalia did not like to vote that way,” he said in a speech at the University of Michigan. “He does not like sandal-wearing, bearded weirdos who go around burning flags.”
It’s worth a trip to the magazine stand to pick up a copy.
As a bonus, there’s also John Lahr’s rave review of Spamalot.