Scalia Sets Out the Canons of Originalism

Today, a brief interview on PBS with US Supreme Court Justice Scalia, who published in June Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts. In the interview he says the book sets out in detail the full range of originalism as he understands it (with the help of co-author Bryan Garner, Editor of Black’s Law Dictionary). The first part is a rationale, reportedly, and the second a how-to. To my knowledge, this is quite novel for a sitting judge.

Originalism does not have much purchase in Canada, apparently, on the grounds that it is unnecessary to conceal the policy making of the courts behind elaborately wrought fig leaves (see A. M. Dodek (2009), 46 S.C.L.R. (2d) at n. 9 for some good leads into scholarly acknowledgements of this reality).


  1. Michael thanks for the mention of my article on the policy making role of the Supreme Court.

  2. m. diane kindree

    There is no doubt in my mind that Justice Scalia is an influential polemicist because of his adamant position on textualism and originalism. From my limited perspective, I see the life of law (J. Scalia doesn’t agree with the term “living” because paper and ink are inanimate objects) governed by logic and experience (“text, history, tradition, precedent”) but also by contextuality and contemporary circumstances (“purpose and consequences” Justice Becker). It seems to me this approach supports both intrepretative law and comparative law equally (with consideration given to limitation of statutes)? If one were to move beyond the wrought fig leaves, does his book have some relevant insight on how to guard the boundaries and preserve the democratic process by interpreting words alone?
    I am curious and so I guess he has sold a book.