January 14, 2005

News reports of the Scalia-Breyer debate.

The previous post is my TiVo-blog of the C-Span feed of the Scalia-Breyer debate. Now let's look at some news reports. Here's Joan Biskupic in USA Today. She includes this relevant info:
Some members of Congress have denounced such references. Last year, Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla., introduced a resolution criticizing the court for citing foreign legal authority. The resolution drew several co-sponsors but was not adopted by the full House. Shannon Conklin, a spokeswoman for Feeney, said Thursday that he intends to reintroduce the resolution.
I note that there was some discussion about whether or not to cite the law. Justice Breyer's point was: if I'm going to read it and take it into account, what's the big deal about citing it? Feeney's resolution wasn't mentioned, but it was implicitly diminished. To cite or not to cite did not come across as a very important point. Justice Scalia didn't harp on it. The main disagreement between the Justices is the same one it always is: is originalism required?

Here's the Washington Post report, from Charles Lane, who's fascinated by the chance to see the two Justices interacting with each other:
It was the first time in recent memory that two sitting justices representing opposing factions on the court took their disagreements so completely public, and the effect was, at times, electrifying....

The two men were a study not only in contrasting legal philosophies but also in contrasting personal styles. Scalia was characteristically intense, frequently shifting to the edge of his seat and punctuating his thoughts with brisk gesticulations. Breyer was all professorial cool, relaxing back into his easy chair and sipping spring water from a long-stemmed glass.
I would add that even though the two Justices present themselves differently and take different positions on how to do constitutional interpretation, they appear completely relaxed and friendly with each other. Neither has the slightest hope of convincing the other he's right, and they seem used to living with that situation.

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