I'm a liberal lawyer. Clerking for Scalia taught me how to think about the law.
"If there was a true surprise during my year clerking for Scalia, it was how little reference he made to political outcomes. What he cared about was the law, and where the words on the page took him. More than any one opinion, this will be his lasting contribution to legal thought. Whatever our beliefs, he forced lawyers and scholars to engage on his terms — textual analysis and original meaning. He forced us all to acknowledge that words cannot mean anything we want them to mean; that we have to impose a degree of discipline on our thinking. A discipline I value to this day."
How does a self-proclaimed liberal lawyer profess a genuine respect for one of the most conservative jurists in American judicial history? Supreme Court justices see themselves as scholars as opposed to politicians, caring more about arguments and constitutional implications than political winds and partisan allegiances. What would our society and, especially, our politic look like if we did the same? What if we looked past political rhetoric and considered actual arguments? What if we traded one-liners for textual analysis?
by Tara Kole, Partner at Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown, Inc.
and Lecturer at USC Gould School of Law
Washington Post l February 17, 2016