Scalia scoffed for claiming Constitution is ‘dead’ document

by Cheryl K. Chumley-The Washington Times  |  published on January 30, 2013

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is drawing fire from legal colleagues for his characterization of the U.S. Constitution as a “dead” document — that is, judges should not take it upon themselves to interpret its clauses via modern meanings.

“It’s not a living document,” Mr. Scalia said Monday, during a Southern Methodist University appearance, according to reports in the Dallas Morning News. “It’s dead, dead, dead.”

Mr. Scalia, a Ronald Reagan-appointee, has always maintained an originalism view of the Constitution — one that holds fast to the need to interpret the text as the Founding Fathers intended at the time.

“I deny the premise that law has nothing to do with historical inquiry,” he said, during an April 2010 appearance at the University of Virginia School of Law, according to postings on the university’s website. “Historical inquiry has nothing to do with the law only if the original meaning is irrelevant.”

On Tuesday, a day after Mr. Scalia again emphasized that view, legal scholars scoffed.

“I think that it is a bit disingenuous in that he, Scalia, understands that his personal views play an important role in shaping and informing,” yet also says judges’ beliefs shouldn’t be tainted by modern-day events and culture, said Yale Law School professor Peter Schuck, in a story from Politico.

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