Scalia a Terrible Role Model for Young Lawyers

And it's got nothing to do with politics, says law school dean
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2015 5:41 PM CDT
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia administers the oath of allegiance to new citizens in Gettysburg, Pa.   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – Antonin Scalia has taken plenty of criticism over his Supreme Court opinions, but this example doesn't have anything to do with his politics. Instead, it's his tone. In an essay in the Los Angeles Times, the dean of the UC Irvine law school writes that Scalia's scathing language is "setting a terrible example for young lawyers." Scalia doesn't just disagree with his fellow justices, he calls them out by name and mocks their decisions as "beyond absurd," or "nothing short of ludicrous," or "profoundly incoherent," writes Erwin Chemerinsky. In one case this year, he singled out the majority ruling's language and said if he had written something that, "I would hide my head in a bag."

Sure it can be entertaining, but a legal argument it is not, writes Chemerinsky. "Scalia's browbeating is childish, even vain; like a harshly negative book critic, he revels in his own turns of phrase. And his attitude, just like his legal theory, affects the profession as a whole." Chemerinsky sees that firsthand: His students are turning in legal briefs modeled after Scalia's nasty style—unaware that such tone is a "crutch" for those who can't win by logic or reasoning alone. Click for the full column. (Or if you like the justice's style, get a personalized "Scalia burn.")

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |