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The Great Dissenter: Top 5 Scalia Quotes from the Other Side

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

What do Johnny Knoxville and Justice Antonin Scalia have in common? One's a Jackass, and the other's a ... distinguished jurist. But they share a birthday! And since we were playing kickball yesterday while Justice Scalia was celebrating his 76th birthday, we're celebrating Nino a day late with our favorite Justice Scalia quotes from concurring and dissenting opinions.

(Though Justice Scalia is known for his colorful writing, his majority opinions must reflect the Court's official position. When he's not writing for the Court, Scalia really lets us know how he feels.)

Let's get this belated party started. On to the list.

1. Bogey? In PGA Tour Inc. v. Martin, Justice Scalia wrote, "We Justices must confront what is indeed an awesome responsibility. It has been rendered the solemn duty of the Supreme Court of the United States, laid upon it by Congress in pursuance of the Federal Government's power "[t]o regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States ... to decide What Is Golf."

2. Dial J for Justice. Justices Scalia and Thomas often find themselves siding with Justice Alito. In NASA v. Nelson, the pair reached the same conclusion as Alito, who authored the majority opinion, but criticized their colleague's reasoning in a concurring opinion: "If ... the Court believes that there is a constitutional right to informational privacy, then I fail to see the minimalist virtues in delivering a lengthy opinion analyzing that right while coyly noting that the right is 'assumed' rather than 'decided.' Thirty-three years have passed since the Court first suggested that the right may, or may not, exist. It is past time for the Court to abandon this Alfred Hitchcock line of our jurisprudence."

3. Mind Your Own Business. In a concurring opinion to Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain et al, a 2004 Alien Tort Statute case, Justice Scalia wrote, "This Court seems incapable of admitting that some matters -- any matters -- are none of its business ... In today's latest victory for its Never Say Never Jurisprudence, the Court ignores its own conclusion that the ATS provides only jurisdiction, wags a finger at the lower courts for going too far, and then -- repeating the same formula the ambitious lower courts themselves have used -- invites them to try again."

4. Establishment Claus. In Lee v. Wiseman, Scalia criticized, "I find it a sufficient embarrassment that our Establishment Clause jurisprudence regarding holiday displays has come to require scrutiny more commonly associated with interior decorators than with the judiciary."

5. Kitty Kat Concurrence. In a concurring opinion arguing Indiana nudity laws regulate conduct, not expression, Justice Scalia wrote, "Perhaps the dissenters believe that 'offense to others' ought to be the only reason for restricting nudity in public places generally ... The purpose of Indiana's nudity law would be violated, I think, if 60,000 fully consenting adults crowded into the Hoosierdome to display their genitals to one another, even if there were not an offended innocent in the crowd."

Happy birthday, Justice Scalia. Thanks for the memories.

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