Scalia in the Casebooks

13 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2018

See all articles by Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School

Paulson Varghese

Vanderbilt University, Law School, Students

Date Written: January 2, 2018


In the time since Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death, much has been written about what his influence has been and what his influence will be. In this Essay, we try to quantify Scalia’s influence in law school constitutional-law curricula by studying how often his ideas are explored in constitutional-law casebooks. In particular, relative to other justices, we look at how often Scalia’s opinions (for the Court, or his separate opinions) are excerpted in the principal cases and how often he is referred to by name in the notes preceding and following the principal cases. We find that Scalia is at or near the top of most of the metrics we explore here, but he does not tower over the competition. Indeed, the data reveal that perhaps the most important factor driving inclusion in our casebooks is seniority: chief justices and justices who led their ideological wings of the Court have a great deal of power to assign themselves opinions that are likely to end up in our casebooks. We find that the most notable exception in the data is not Scalia, but Justice Samuel Alito: he is included in our casebooks to an especially surprising extent given that, until this year, he has always been the most junior member of his wing of the Court.

Keywords: United States Supreme Court, empirical studies, Scalia, Alito, casebooks, seniority

Suggested Citation

Fitzpatrick, Brian T. and Varghese, Paulson, Scalia in the Casebooks (January 2, 2018). University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 84, 2017, Vanderbilt Law Research Paper No. 18-01, Available at SSRN:

Brian T. Fitzpatrick (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-322-4032 (Phone)

Paulson Varghese

Vanderbilt University, Law School, Students ( email )

Nashville, TN
United States

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