Tag Archives: Ginsberg

Nov 26
2013
8:32 PM

Scalia/Ginsburg Opera

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llustration by Jeff Dionise,
ABA Journal article

2013 Maryland Law grad Derrick Wang wrote an opera based on words from judicial opinions penned by Justices Ginsburg and Scalia. He previewed portions of the work at the Supreme Court in June. An excerpt from a July 2013 NPR article about the opera:

As the plot unfolds, the two justices find themselves locked in a room, and the only way out is to agree on a constitutional approach. A grumpy Scalia fulminates:

“The justices are blind — how can they possibly spout this?
The Constitution says absolutely nothing about this!
This right that they’ve enshrined — when did the document sprout this?
The Framers wrote and signed words that endured without this;
The Constitution says absolutely nothing about this!”

When Ginsburg enters, Scalia implores her, to strains of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” asking why she can’t seem to read the Constitution properly.

“Oh, Ruth, can you read?
You’re aware of the text.
Yet so proudly you’ve failed to derive its true meaning.”

Ginsburg replies with calm reason, asking Scalia to consider a different approach.

“How many times must I tell you, dear Mister Justice Scalia,
You’d spare us such pain if you’d just entertain this idea.
You are searching in vain for a bright-line solution,
To a problem that isn’t so easy to solve.
But the beautiful thing about our Constitution is that
Like our society, it can evolve.”

Our Founders, of course, were men of great vision, she says, but their culture restricted how far they could go. So to us, they bequeathed the decision to allow certain meanings to flourish and grow.

“We are freeing the people we used to hold captive, who deserve to be more than just servants or wives.
If we hadn’t been willing to be so adaptive, can you honestly say we’d have led better lives?”

In his finale, Scalia replies with characteristic flourish, on a soaring high note, followed by this harrumph: “Anyway, that’s my view, and it happens to be correct.”

[JML]