U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared this week on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” to discuss the legacy of her late colleague Justice Antonin Scalia in connection with the imminent publication of a volume of Scalia’s public speeches.
A volume of the late justice’s public remarks called “Scalia Speaks” will appear on Oct. 3. The book was edited by Christopher Scalia, the justice’s son, and Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Ginsburg wrote a forward for the book.
A prodigious writer and speaker, Scalia was invited to speak on a diverse range of topics including constitutional interpretation, the arts, and Catholic higher education. Among the more colorful addresses in the book is a short speech the justice gave to the National Italian American Foundation in 1986, concerning the substance of American identity. He said:
The common bond I have with those who share my Italian ancestry prevents me from readily being drawn into enmity with those people on the basis of, for example, politics. If I were, for example, a Republican, I could not think too ill of Democrats — because, after all, Pete Rodino is a Democrat and he’s a paisan. And of course we all have loyalties based on factors other than our ethnic heritage that bind us together with other Americans — we go to the same church as they, or belong to the same union, or went to the same college. It is these intersecting loyalties to small segments of the society that bind the society together.
One such “small segment” was the informal “mutual improvement society” Ginsburg and Scalia forged as colleagues, the fruit of years worth of frank but respectful exchanges over questions of law that helped each justice refine their final opinions.
“It was good to have someone who is super-intelligent and is able to explain his point of view,” Ginsburg said. “It makes you think harder.”
“And he felt the same way,” the late justice’s wife Maureen Scalia replied. “It was really important.”
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