No one asked Justice Scalia -- after his address in which he re-affirmed his view that original-meaning textualism is the best approach to constitutional interpretation -- about Professor Randy Barnett's charge that the Justice is a "faint-hearted originalist."Doesn't Scalia call himself a "faint-hearted originalist"? I don't have my notes from the time Scalia gave a speech at the University of Wisconsin Law School, but I think he owned up to the term. I'll check the notes later.
Anyway, I'm not surprised that no one asked Scalia a challenging question. The Federalist Society provides a well-cushioned cocoon for him. Yet he does just great when confronted with a questioner who really hotly opposes him. You should have heard him tangle with some of my colleagues. It was quite cool. I prefer an event with more friction!
I mean, I see the point of The Federalist Society. It's a very effective political organization that supports and encourages young conservatives in the law. I appreciate the way it emboldens conservative students to express their opinions in the classroom. (When I went to law school, the classroom discussion was boringly one-sided.) But, intellectually, originalism, unchallenged, is tiresome.
That doesn't mean it's wrong. Maybe judges should work hard and selflessly at a job made boring by intellectual abstemiousness. But if they are going to talk about it to a nicely nodding group, well, for me, it's a strange environment.