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National editorial: Scalia's passing

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As always, the man — and the justice of the Supreme Court of the United States ­— confounded and astonished, dismayed and delighted even as he took his abrupt leave over the weekend. How even begin to describe the indescribable, constant and changeable Antonin Scalia? He was the court’s great dissenter and disturber of the peace over the decades he served on it. He could be both scholarly theorist (he called his theory Originalism, or doing what the Founding Fathers surely intended in their time) and agitator extraordinaire as he took on all comers, always looking for trouble even if he had to start it.

Antonin Scalia and Richard Arnold, the greatest American judge never to have sat on the Supreme Court of the United States, made a fitting pair of bookends — so different in style, so alike in their dedication to the civil liberties of the American people. Yet they were fast friends, exchanging dueling quips about the superiority of Yale or Harvard Law. Concise as Judge Scalia was verbose, Richard Arnold would naturally be first in his class at both. His background in the classics doubtless helped. If memory serves, and sometimes it doesn’t, he wrote the class poem — in Latin.

But how to sum up Antonin Scalia’s contribution to constitutional law? Let’s just say that whenever an appellate judge or legal scholar wants to ornament an opinion, he’ll be using a quotation from the ever quotable Mr. Justice Scalia.

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