Justices As 'Sacred Symbols': Antonin Scalia and the Cultural Life of the Law
(Forthcoming) British Journal of American Legal Studies (2017)
14 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2016 Last revised: 4 Mar 2017
Date Written: November 17, 2016
Perhaps no single judge in recent years has embodied the intricacies and difficulties of the cultural life of the law as much as American Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. While common law judges have traditionally acquired status—and cultural relevance—from the significance, eloquence and forcefulness of their judicial opinions, Justice Scalia took an altogether different route. Both on and off the bench, he pushed the limits of legal and political legitimacy. He did this through a strict adherence to what we call a “judicial mandate,” flamboyant but engaging writing, biting humor and widespread marketing of his originalist and textualist interpretative theories. This article chronicles these features of Scalia’s jurisprudence and public life more generally, ultimately characterising the late justice as a “sacred symbol” in American legal and political circles, and beyond.
Keywords: Antonin Scalia, sacred symbol, US Supreme Court, originalism, textualism, cultural life of law
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