(Salon) -- George Orwell once noted that when an English politician dies “his worst enemies will stand up on the floor of the House and utter pious lies in his honour.” Antonin Scalia was neither English, nor technically speaking a politician, but a similar tradition can be witnessed in the form of the praise now being heaped on him.
For example prominent liberal legal academic and former Obama administration lawyer Cass Sunstein has just offered the opinion that Scalia “was not only one of the most important justices in the nation’s history, he was also among the greatest.” Scalia’s greatness, Sunstein claims, “lies in his abiding commitment to one ideal above any other: the rule of law.”
Sunstein’s assessment strikes me as not merely wrong, but as the precise opposite of the truth. Scalia was not a great judge: he was a bad one. And his badness consisted precisely in his contempt for the rule of law, if by “the rule of law” one means the consistent application of legal principles, without regard to the political consequences of applying those principles in a consistent way.
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