Saturday, February 20, 2016

Goodbye Justice Scalia

We interrupt this bail blog to say goodbye to Justice Antonin Scalia.

I met Justice Scalia at the Supreme Court, on a night in 1988 when the Court was holding a mini-premier of a PBS documentary called, “This Honorable Court.” My mom was on the guest list because she’d been a state chairperson for the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution Commission. I lived and worked in D.C. at the time, and she got me in.

We were standing in the Great Hall, the “lobby” of the Supreme Court, and I had made my way to a place where I could see what was going on. Suddenly, a man sidled up next to me – smoking – and relentlessly cracking jokes about virtually everything being said during the ceremony. I saw who it was, and so I quickly gave up any hope of either shushing him or telling him not to smoke. In fact, I liked his jokes, and he must have known that I liked them, because he kept telling them for about 15 solid minutes. I learned later that this sort of interaction was the norm for Antonin Scalia, who lived life in the moment, and who cracked jokes like nobody else.

I met William Brennan and William Rehnquist that night, too, but I’ll remember Antonin Scalia the most for trying to show me that Supreme Court Justices are just like everyone else. Except for the fact that they aren’t. In fact, the biggest joke of all would be to think that Justice Scalia was like any ordinary person. He wasn’t. He was huge. And he will definitely be missed.