"I call this the Shakespeare principle, because it represents, within the realm of law, a proper sense of priorities that I learned in high school within the realm of literature," he said in his keynote. "I had a tough old English teacher who made an enormous impression upon my life by explaining the Shakespeare principle to one of my classmates ... who in our classroom discussion of Hamlet made the mistake of volunteering some sophomoric, ill-founded criticism of the play. This teacher looked at him for a moment and then uttered the line that has ever since seemed to me a pretty good guide in many areas of life and work: 'Mister,' he said, 'when you read Shakespeare, Shakespeare's not on trial. You are.'"
When the justice got rolling, he not only named the poor student, but broke into a New York accent when quoting his former teacher. It brought the house down.
"What Shakespeare is to the high school English student," Scalia said, "the society's accepted constitutional traditions are to the prudent jurist.
"He does not judge them, but is judged by them. The very test of the validity of his analytic formulas—his rules—is whether, when applied to traditional situations, they yield the results that American society has traditionally accepted."
May 16, 2007
"What Shakespeare is to the high school English student, the society's accepted constitutional traditions are to the prudent jurist."
Said Antonin Scalia (in Oregon last month, as recounted in this nicely written article):