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Famous Friends: Profiles of Ginsburg and Scalia

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

One wouldn't think that two polar opposites could be such great friends. Justice Antonin Scalia is a boisterous, ultra-conservative jurist, while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a liberal lion, with a far less exaggerated writing style. Nonetheless, it is now well-known Supreme Court trivia that the two are close friends, and have even ridden an elephant together.

In the last week, both have been subjects of lengthy, in-depth profiles. What else can we learn about the famous friends?

SCOTUS Week at FindLaw


Justice Scalia Talks With New York Magazine

There is a wealth of information on the controversial jurist in this interview between Justice Scalia and New York Magazine's Jennifer Senior. In short, he's very conservative, very Catholic, and very outspoken.

The topics covered in the profile range from pop culture (he loves Seinfeld) to his choice in clerks (he likes to have a liberal on staff, "looking for the chinks in [his] armor.") He doesn't understand why anyone would use social media, only partakes in conservative news media, and dislikes the fact that our language has gotten more coarse ("including, you know, ladies using [the f-word].")

To us, it was a mostly humorous look into the personality of one of the sitting justices, especially his diatribe on the Devil. To others, it has inspired rants about Scalia's homophobia, another piece calling him a "cantankerous old coot," and a third Slate piece questioning his isolationist choices of media providers.

(Sidebar: the "coot" rant contains an out-of-context quote about homosexuals being "destructive." He actually asserted the opposite in the interview. Maybe he had a point when he called The Washington Post (until recently, the same company as Slate) "shrilly liberal." )

Ginsburg's Washington Post Profile

Since starting here at FindLaw, I've learned so much about the "Notorious RBG." She's a bit of an office favorite around here. Still, the Post profile is a great read, covering Ginsburg's friends (including Scalia and an 84-year-old woman who does the splits), her inability to cook, thanks in part to her late husband's culinary talents (a friend had to remind her not to put metal in the microwave), and how opera can bring her to tears.

She also maintained her stance on retirement, for the fifty-seventh time this year. (Seriously folks -- stop badgering the poor woman!) She told the Post that she predicts that the Democrats will win in 2016, and that she doesn't plan on stepping down until she feels that her performance is slipping, noting that Justice Stevens was concerned about his hearing in his last days on the court.

For the record, Scalia, who is only three years her junior, has a similar stance, and does not plan on retiring until he no longer enjoys the work.

Scalia/Ginsburg: An Opera?

One of the favorite pastimes of both justices is to attend the opera, often together. Now, they'll have the opportunity to attend their opera, as composer and law school graduate Derrick Wang is set to debut "Scalia/Ginsburg," an opera based on their friendship, their conflicts, and their contrasting judicial ideologies, reports the Post.

As you might expect, for Scalia, the "originalist," the music is aggressive, yet very 18th century. For Ginsburg, the "living constitutionalist," it's far more modern, evolving from Verdi, to a jazz waltz, to gospel/pop. The ending, however, remains a secret.

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