Antonin Scalia was an associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. Although Spartacus is not a legal scholar or lawyer (recall prior disclosure about being able to see his reflection in a mirror), Spartacus considers the late Justice Scalia was on of the best Supreme Court judges ever.
Nominated to the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, Justice Scalia also holds a special place in Spartacus’ heart because it was Scalia’s words that inspired Spartacus to write (to the extent that what he produces is actually “writing”).
In response to an interviewer question about whether he ever penned a reply letter to a newspaper or other hostile correspondence, Scalia replied that he has written many letters in response; and then binned them all. That, for Spartacus, was the invitation to put finger to keyboard. Many years of Spartacus’ written rants also went into the bin.
Justice Scalia unexpectedly died in February 2016 and his replacement to the US Supreme Court was a political battle of the highest order. It could be argued that the battle to replace Justice Scalia contributed in some way to the election of President Donald Trump.
Upon his death, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland as his replacement. And so commenced a 12 month battle for the control of the US Supreme Court.
The US Constitution requires that Supreme Court Justices (and many other roles) be nominated by the President and confirmed by the US Sentate. The majority leader of the Senate then as now was Senator Mitch McConnell. Senator McConnell refused to even allow a hearing to consider the nomination of Judge Garland on the basis that it was an election year and the 45th President, whomever it would be, should be allowed to nominate the successor to Justice Scalia, rather than the lame duck 44th President (Obama).
It was a high risk strategy given the then expectations of a Hillary Clinton presidency.
To cut a long story short, Judge Garland was not appointed and Judge Neil Gorsich was. Many commentators have suggested that the appointed of Gorsich to the US Supreme Court has possibly been the most important, most consequential and most lasting decision made President Trump. At least so far.
But back to Justice Scalia.
Over the holidays, Spartacus has been reading a book on the collected speeches of Justice Scalia. It is called Scalia Speaks and here it is. Spartacus is perhaps 2/3 through, but the last speech read was by Scalia given in Poland in 2009. The speech was titled Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters. A copy of this speech is available here.
Like pretty much all of Scalia’s writings, the speech was clear, crisp and beautifully argued.
Obviously there are differences between the governing model of Australia and the US, but notwithstanding, Spartacus would commend this relatively short document to all Cats. Here is a small sample – connected but not contiguous sentences:
In the first half of the last century, American political theory was obsessed with the expert. The key to effective government, it was thought, was to take the direction of government agencies out of the hands of politicians, and to place it within the control of men experienced and knowledgeable within the various fields of government regulation.
It is fair to say that the project was a grand failure – for two basic reasons. First, and most important, it was discovered (and this should have been no surprise) that many of the most important issues to be decided by government agencies – even agencies dealing with seemingly technical fields such as telecommunications and transportation-have no right or wrong answers that experts can discover. They involve social preferences which, in a democracy, can only be expressed through the political process.
Australian energy, telecommunications and what other policies have been handed over to the “experts”.
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