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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Who put the temper in judicial temperament?

Joe Conason - The New York Observer
 
03.29.06 - Antonin Scalia, the loudest mouth on the highest bench, has indulged himself again. The idol of the far right has provoked fresh doubts about his temperament - and this time, unfortunately, the rest of the world is likely to notice.
 
Surely as brilliant as his admirers claim, Justice Scalia's intellect is too often overshadowed by aggressive bluster and rigid ideology. He suffers from an uncontrollable impulse to give insult and an insufficient respect for the opinions of others. Widely advertised as exceptionally smart, he sometimes does and says things that are extraordinarily stupid.
 
On March 26, after receiving communion at a special mass for politicians and lawyers in Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Justice Scalia answered a reporter's question with a rude hand gesture. Asked whether some Americans doubt his impartiality, he replied, ?You know what I say to those people?? and then flicked his fingers under his chin, adding, ?That's Sicilian.?
 
The conservative Boston Herald noted that this incident occurred ?just feet from the Mother Church's altar? and described it as ?conduct unbecoming a 20-year veteran of the country's highest court.? After two decades, Justice Scalia should have learned to speak with a measure of decorum and responsibility. Yet the 70-year-old jurist seems more erratic as the years go by-and his Sicilian sign-language clowning is certainly his lesser offense this month.
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