Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and his co-author, legal writing czar Bryan Garner brought their punchy and well-timed performance to the University of St. Thomas on Monday, May 11, to an audience composed of law students and legal aristocrats. They wowed the crowd.
They were promoting, discussing, signing and selling their latest joint effort, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts, a study of the legal canons of construction, or, as Scalia described them, the clues to what a text means.
But first the justice, described as a conservative by Minnesota State Bar Association President Richard Kyle, had to set the record straight. “That depends on what you mean by conservative,” he said. “I ought to be the pin-up of the criminal defense bar,” he said.
“You are,” retorted Garner. “I’ve been in some of those offices.”
Prior to the afternoon appearance, the duo had lunch at the MSBA offices. MSBA President-elect Michael Unger asked the justice why audio feeds of oral arguments weren’t available in real time. Scalia said he thought they were, and Unger pressed him. It turns out Scalia doesn’t want the court to be the news of the hour because he believed it would be undignified, Unger said.