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Article
Justices as Sacred Symbols: Antonin Scalia and the Cultural Life of the Law
British Journal of American Legal Studies (2017)
  • Dr Brian Christopher Jones, Liverpool Hope University, UK
  • Prof Austin Sarat, Amherst College
Abstract
The idea of the brilliant and elegant philosopher judge has a long and romanticized history. From Sir Edward Coke, William Blackstone and Joseph Story to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis and Lord Bingham, the common law is replete with this vision of judging. In this vision, judges sometimes seem to be law makers as much as faithful it interpreters. In many ways Antonin Scalia fought against this traditional vision of the philosopher judge. He disliked activist judges who imposed their idea of wisdom on elected legislatures; in fact, he trumpeted his jurisprudence for its fidelity to law and deference to the popular will. But even though Scalia fought against the romantic vision of philosopher judge, he himself became a living symbol of a judicial philosophy, a symbol so powerful that sometimes it was difficult to disentangle the judge from his jurisprudence. His status as a symbol and how he achieved his status, was much different from the route of the judges mentioned above. This paper attempts to explain how Scalia became what we call a judicial “sacred symbol”.
Keywords
  • Antonin Scalia,
  • sacred symbol,
  • US Supreme Court,
  • originalism,
  • textualism,
  • law and culture
Publication Date
Spring 2017
Publisher Statement
A version of this piece is forthcoming in the British Journal of American Legal Studies (2017).
Citation Information
Brian Christopher Jones and Austin Sarat. "Justices as Sacred Symbols: Antonin Scalia and the Cultural Life of the Law" British Journal of American Legal Studies (2017)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/brian_jones/45/