Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

WSJ Review of Scalia Speaks: ‘Marvelous’

In today’s Wall Street Journal, UVA law professor, and former Scalia law clerk, John Duffy has a beautiful review of Scalia Speaks. A couple of excerpts:

Scalia’s brilliant writing and commitment to principle permeate Scalia Speaks…. The book supplies what Scalia’s judicial opinions could not: insight into the more fundamental set of principles that guided the man’s entire life. The speeches are divided into six sections, only one of which is devoted to the law. But it is the five other sections that are the most illuminating. Here we learn Scalia’s outlook on, among other things, character, friendship, education, sports, political philosophy and faith….

This marvelous book surely will be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the mind of this great jurist and conservative thinker. But I would go further and say that it should be required reading for anyone who wishes to understand the mind of a great American, a figure so important to our history that his passing influenced the presidential election held months later. If Scalia Speaks can be said to have one fundamental flaw—one shared with the man’s life—it is that it ends too soon.

I readily acknowledge that the reader might fairly be skeptical of an assessment offered by a former Scalia clerk. There are at least two good reasons to overcome that skepticism. First, Duffy deftly works in illustrations that support his judgments. Second, his assessment aligns with that of all the other reviewers of the book so far, including those on various places on the ideological spectrum, such as Alan Dershowitz (“marvelous collection”) and SCOTUSblog’s Ronald Collins (“If you would know Scalia the man, read Scalia Speaks”).


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