When I heard that Justice Antonin Scalia was coming to Tysons, I knew I had to be there. You see, I’ve been a big fan of his for more than 20 years and have written about him many times, but I had never seen him live. So, I got a ticket as soon as they went on sale, and got to the venue early so I’d be among the first in line. When the doors opened, I ran to the front and got a seat right next to the stage.
He didn’t disappoint.
He opened with his biggest hit, “Originalism,” and played it over and over, which was just fine for this audience. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, originalists view the Constitution as a text with fixed definition and scope. Originalists apply the Constitution to changing times by extrapolating the Founders’ original intent and applying it to current events. In other words, the Constitution is what it is, and it is what it always has been. The originalism tune Scalia played today covered everything from the death penalty to abortion to sodomy on the right, to criminal rights on the left. He also sang his familiar refrain that, if you can get enough people together, you can pass a law and create rights not otherwise recognized in the Constitution. Pretty simple way for Americans to address changing times and mores.
While he was also very, very funny, he didn’t pull any punches when discussing his liberal brethren or in chastising them for their judicial activism. Such activism, he said, does a disservice to the very point of any constitution, which is to provide stability and predictability. Indeed, construing the Constitution as a “living” document, pretty much means that the Constitution says whatever you want it to say on any particular day. His candor in rebuking his colleagues in that regard was, to me, the most surprising part of an awesome show.
The only disappointing thing about his performance was that he didn’t play Freebird.