tv After Words Christopher Scalia Scalia Speaks CSPAN February 23, 2018 8:01pm-9:04pm EST
next on the tvs "after words", christopher scalia, son of the late spring court justice antonin scalia shares his father's speeches on law, faith and virtue. he's interviewed by los angeles time supreme court correspondent david savage. "after words" is a weekly interview program with relevant guest host interviewing a top nonfiction authors about their latest work. >> host: christopher scalia, your father antonin scalia was one of the most powerful writers of the supreme court opinion and he wrote a lot of defense with real zingers, great for people like me quoting him but this is not a book about court opinions but a book about speeches so why speeches? you well, yeah, and he said his court opinions are memorable and i'm often told by law students and reporters that they went to his opinions first for that reason because they were so crisply written and evocative and powerful.
his speeches are some of the same qualities but really great qualities in his opinions do but i think the advantage of the speech is that he could let more of his personality shine through, for one thing. he was a great performer in a little bit of a ham and he played macbeth in the high school production of that play and he was i think the president of georgetown theater club so that the article side time through in the speeches in a way that just doesn't in the opinions. court opinions are necessarily they have to follow certain conventions that are apt to turn off the average person who is not really a court follower or law student so we wanted a collection that would be of interest to the layman, really that would be interesting to the average american and not just the legal nerd. >> host: and like well-adjusted normal people who don't spend all this time reading court
opinion to exactly. normal people want readable opinions but a write up of an opinion but not the whole thing. one of the advantages of these speeches especially the ones about the law that my dad could explain his approach to interpreting the constitution in the law uninterrupted without having to focus on a specific case but bring in multiple cases and the co- editor and i were sure to pick one that would be understandable to anybody. ...
this book has so many wonderful speeches about a high school graduation or talking about his catholic faith to catholic audiences, talking about foreign -- just talking about so many subjects. one of the real appeals of the book. >> guest: a couple tall real. >> -- at that time really surprised me. spoke a couple item time at the national wild turkey federation. we included his peach from one of those conventions in which my father just explains how he becamed into -- interested in hunting. it showed a side of my father but learn more about through the speech. >> host: you mentioned you did this with ed whalen, law cushing. -- law check, and a terrific
writer. was there a file cabinet full of typed up speeches or did you do any transcribing of audio recordings of speeches? >> guest: all of these speeches are ones that he had sharpened and revised pretty carefully himself. only a couple had ever been published before. i think that's one of the great things of the collection, burt the way we set about this is basically we got a couple of binders of his speeches from his secretary, angela, and i think two binders with 50 speeches each, i think. spanning -- going back to early '80s through the present, and in addition to those two binders, which were very easy to navigate. we had a big box of lose speeches, a couple of which were
just different versions of -- or -- but most of them were fresh. we had to sort through the loose speeches and then another box of floppy disks which your viewers may not remember, but in an archaic form of storing information. had to sort through those speeches and again a couple of them were ones we already had but a lot of new speeches. it involved a lot of sorting and sifting, but we were surprised by how many great speeches he had. we both knew he spoke a lot, but -- we knew he spoke not just about the law. he spoke at commentment addresses, spoke at my high school graduation. so i was aware of that. but again the turkey hunting speech i had no idea about. the range of speeches was very
surprising and the consistent quality was surprising. so as editors issue think the hardest thing we had to do was decide what to not include. there's no filner here. there's lot of good material we just couldn't include, going back to the general reader. i if something was too in at the weed objector a general audn aee weed objector a general audience we would exclude it. >> host: were there result pel versions of the same speech? because i recall hearing justice scalia talk different places, different years and he had sort of a stump speech, sort of knew what he wanted to say, he is was a wonderful performer, and a good speechmaker -- part of it us the substance but part of it is the opinions he would emphasize. is it the correct -- your sense he had sort of a speech about originalism and the law and could go to places and take that and deliver it and add material
and just talk? >> guest: he delivered -- i think i know the stomach speech you're referring to it's a speech he deliver about originalism and why it's superior to what is cal the living constitution approach to juris prudence and i heard him deliver that speech, too, in madison, wisconsin in township and -- in 2001. he it had a wonderful passage where he compared the living constitution approach to a television commercial from the 190s where a prego commercial and somebody i makes pasta, heating up store-bought pasta sauce and his husband says to your wife, you'ring would is in sauce, not doing it home made? what about the oregano and she wife says, it's in there. and what about the pepper.
>> guest: it's in there the garlic? it's in there. and my dad would say, we have tot kind of a constitution now. you want a right to an borings? it's in there. you want 0 right to do? identity in there anything that guess and true and beautiful, it's in there no matter what the text says. being a pop culture junkie and having watched that commercial with my father, i loved that passage. i was looking forward to finding it bit he never actually apparently wrote that speech down. so we have a version of it in the collection. one he delivered in australia in the early '90s. but that particular version, which he delivered very often, he never wrote down. instead he worked from a very clipped series of note he called the outline. the outline was really just a set of prompts he would riff off
of and if you didn't know the speech, you would look at this outline and think, what could this possibly mean? there are only 50 words on it. some of them are misspelled. and then he would photocopy the outline and write notes on it for any given occasion so the people he should thank the speech or new ideas that popped into his head. unfortunately there's no reference to the prego television commercial on the outline. we were surprised that's is how he did it. he he knew what he wanted to say so clearly, it is easy for if to riff off the basic outline. >> host: you said you were a student at the university of wisconsin during that time? >> guest: yes. >> host: one thing i remember is that he would go out to a lot of universities and there would be -- he would i'm surely have a lot of protesters, maybe it's gotten worse now but even 20 years ago or whatever, i always
admired the fact that he would go to law schools and universities where he knew there was going to be some people who didn't like him and he did it anyway. he was not shy about what he thought he was -- a brave guy and didn't mind being criticized. it's unfortunate the way politics have gone these days, people go to places where they'll be welcomed and not to the other liberals go one place, conservative dozen another. so you actually remember him going to wisconsin and getting some protests or some -- >> guest: yeah. it was in 2001, shortly after the bush v gore decision so he one terribly popular in madison, wisconsin there was handful of demonstrators holding pictures of hitler, mussolini and my dad. so, pretty subdued stuff. not too terrible.
and like you i wonder what would be the case now. i'm assuming it would be more intense now. that was outside. inside the lecture hall, the audience was respectful. there were pretty intense questions afterwards. there were certainly plenty of people there who disagreed with him and let him know that, and there was some combative back and forth even. it wasn't all polite. so, my father delivered speeches in what you might call hostile territory because he was -- he believed he could persuade people and he believed that people enn general were persuadable and open to reason, even people who disagreed with him. at the very least he wanted them to hear this ideas unfiltered and that's why he deliver speeches as often as he did and as many speeches as he did.
he really believe that. he could persuade people, and i think that even if he didn't persuade people to agree with him, he was at least able to show that he wasn't the caricature that people had going into the speech or the event. >> host: that's always the reaction i heard from those speeches, either talking to people or reading about them, is that a fair number of students would be quoted saying, what did you think? said, i didn't agree with justice scalia but he made a really in argument for this. they came away thinking that they'd actually learn something, that caused them to think twice about what they thought and he could really win over people to say, this is a really smart guy. he has a very good point. i hadn't really thought of that. i didn't really understand the argument he was making. he also had a sort of, like, nobody else at the court, that the law is sort of -- loved to argue and that the sort of a
combative ideas, i remember asking him once about -- he had written some opinionses that were sort of critical of justice o'connor, and people said, you know, sounds like you're going hard on justice o'connor. he said we're friends. we if a agree. you come out to the middle of the ring and tap gloves and come out swinging. that's justice o'connor probably didn't see it exactly that way but his view was that you sort of argued about the law, that was the way to do it because that's the way to grapple with what is the right answer. people disagree. you should talk it out. >> guest: and he often said he -- often quoted as sawing i don't attack people, i attack ideas. a lot of very good people have some very bad ideas and that's how he saw it. he didn't -- in miss opinions, voicely do, ad hominem attacks and didn't do that either in
speeches help expected people to give it back to him. he expected people to take their own punches at him, too. justice ginsburg writes the forward and she mentions that they -- people may know they were good friend. they also were good colleagues because they helped each other writing their opinions by pushing back at each other in the drafts. kind of explaining how they could improve an element of their argument by taking into account this point or changing this phrasing here and there. even though they disagreed. they were trying to help each other out by pushing back, and my father thought that, again, going back to concept of persuasion, it's possible to persuade people and it's possible to help one another kind of arrive at the truth of
the matter by -- but not by just saying what you want without any feedback. there had to be some give and take there and some conversation basically. >> host: their friendship is one of the wonderful thing insidewards that you don't see much anymore. they were sort of on the opposite ideological sides of a lot of big issues but it never -- they always -- they were friends in the 1980s and friends up to the en. got together regularly. justice scalia always spoke well of justice ginsburg. he might not join one of her opinions but he was never die -- he respected her and she respected him and it's unfortunate you don't see that anymore. people funam'll different played politically or ideaolly but they can work together as friends. >> guest: ideology has taken ahold of everything and i think if people let that happen, they're missing out on
encounters with a lot of great people and great friendshipped. in their case, they focused on what they had in common. it was an awful lot. they were born in -- my dad was born in trenton but grew up in new york the same time so they had that in common. that was an element to their friendship. they both loved opera. they had cameo appearances in operad together, and their spouses were great friend, too. my mother is a great cook, justice ginsburg's husband, marty, was basically a gourmet chef, and justice ginsburg and my dad liked to eat so that was another element of their friendship. that i really think kind of just by focusing on those things they had in common, was how the friendship thrived. somebody asked my father once basically, how could you like justice ginsburg so me when you
disagree and he said what's there not to like, she's a wonderful person. >> host: except our views on the law. >> guest: exactly. >> host: i saw them toth at gw a couple years ago on the stage and they could joke with each other. justice scalia was saying we took that trip to indiaing to. a big problem for ruth because we were on an elephant and i was in front and all of her feminist friend didn't like the fact she was sitting behind me, and as he finished justice ginsburg in that sort of mod voice says it was told it was matter of redistribution of weight. which he got a real kick out 0 of. they could joke with each other and have fun. this book its full of wonderful -- tell me your favorite? it's hard to interior row it down to a handful. obviously the legal speeched are probably the ones we hope will
secure his legacy but there's so much more. there was so much more to him in life, and i think that's the great thing about the collection. you see so much of that. so a couple of my favorites, one of my favorites is one that we have for the sake of the collection called the part -- the arts the cop text is fascinating. i didn't know he delivered this speech so i was fascinate when i discovered it. he delivered it at the juilliard school in new york city, school of -- very well-nope school of the arts, and it was on he indication of the school's 100th anniversary there was a symposium about the arts in american society, and the school's president, knew that my father was interested in the opera, and new he was a conservative justice who would offer opinions that wouldn't be
heard very often in new york city. and so he thought, on the one hand, my father would fit right in, or he might challenge the audience. to his great great credit he reached tout my dad and says my dad was skeptical at first, but was convinced and decided to participate. i'm really glad he did. hi was part of a fascinating panel. other speakers on the panel were david mccullough, the pulitzer prize winning historian, he believe, and opera singer, renee fleming, and broadway composer, steven sondheim. so pretty fantastic group of people and very disparate bunch, too. i'm not sure my father realizedded be steven sondheim cowrote the music for "west side story" and the father was a big fan of overcrop can krupky and e
worked some worded from the that into a dissent, some court opinion, and i don't think my father realized that at the time but i wish they had a chance to talk about that during their encounterment apparently my father got along with him very well and before the speech, and then at the speech itself, he says it went over great. i was faculty, students are, artists and law students, and my father begin this speech by kind of recognizing how out of place he is, how incongruous his presence the is. let me fine the beginning. it's pretty great. >> host: it remember that one. >> guest: he said aim happy too be here this afternoon. and to tell you the truth, somewhat surprised to be here this afternoon. today's program reads like an iq test. which of the following is out of
place. diva, author, composer, lawyer. so he begins -- i think it's brilliant speech because he begins with this self-depricating humor. then explains why lawyers are important to artists. they create the conditions in which the arts can thrive. through contract law and things like that. so, he eventually kind of win this audience over and he refers to we lovers of the orders, kind of get them on his side a little bit, and brilliant rhetoric, i think. but the second half of the peach, he challenges them by saying, -- by discussing the first amendment. and he says, we lovers of the arts like to believe that all matter of the arts would be protected by the first amendment, by the freedom of speech. in fact, that not the case and my father goes on to explain why
some of the arts everybody in the room would like, dance, for example, would not actually be protected by the freedom of speech, and his argument was that through an originalist term addition of the freedom of speech, that phrase maintain something in particular to founders and wouldn't include an opera lib -- it might include -- would include the libretto but not the opera music. it might not even include the libretto if the libretto were just ugly, and poorly written. that its technically not protected, if i remember his argument correctly. so, he challenges the audience by saying, we may want all of these things to be protected under the first amendment but they aren't necessarily. the appropriate approach to the constitution isn't to understand it as defending and protecting everything you like. it protect as lot of things you don't like and leaves a lot of
things you like up protected. so, i think it's just a kind of a brilliant speech because of the different ways he approaches the audience, and again, the context was so fascinating. >> host: i thought the same thingment one of the speeches where the people were there for the arts and in 15 minutes they learn a lot of copyright law and first amendment law. he speaks very concisely and sort of tells you in a way thaw can understand a whole lot of body of law in a very short time. he says -- in one of the speeches, he was invited to give a lot of commencement addresses and he would ask people for advice, and the one consistent advice he got was, keep it to 15 minutes. i don't know whether he did that but i -- think a lot of his speeches are concise. they say a lot in a relatively few words -- few pages. >> guest: yeah. especially in high school commencements, he knew he wasn't
the real story there it was the students so so he wanted to move how to quickly. heard him speak at a few commencement addresses addressee include a couple of them in here and they were always entertaining, easy for his audiences to understand, but still not just full of platitudes. again, challenging. he taught and he challenge evidence every time he spoke. >> host: a classic on that one that i called platitudes and wisdom. and it says he gave this speech at your brother, pauls rescuer graduation at langley high school and you said height might have given it more than once. it's he begins-giving a commentment address is not as safe as the enterprise as it used to be. that sometimes the students sit around and make up jokes and he says a few weeks ago the "washington post" published a bingo card containing the most frequently used graduation platitudes, ranging from, this
is not a en, it's a beginsing, to you are the future leaders america. and then he says, the idea was that you would take a card to graduation ceremony and if the speaker is really pratt nude enough you can check off a whole strength of old chestnuts the entire class would then stand in unison and yell, bingo, and then he says, your principal is probably angry that -- at me for give next year's class this idea. then he says i've heard some speeches where i wanted to yell bingo event without the benefit of a bingo card. that speech is about the things that speakerred say. this is an unprecedented crisis and he says, no, it isn't. so i just thought it was wonderful graduation -- high school graduation speech. >> guest: at the end of the speech, by the way electric comes back to that bingo card idea and he said, good luck,
and, let's see, i had one last platitude around here some where. 0, yes, the future it in your hand, bingocomecome i heard him deliver the speech and i got a kick out of him ending it by yelling "bingo." >> host: there's something classic about justice scalia that so many high school graduation speeches are full of those platitudes, so he goes and gives a graduation speech that makes fun of platitudes and and says they're real in in the correct. >> host: now mentioned. >> guest: you mention it about don't think -- one point is, do not think you're facing unprecedented challenges. its usually a matter of degree, not in kind. so inenvironmental threats, those have been around a long time. we may by facing a different one now, and he says there that the reason it's dangerous to think you're facing an unprecedented challenge is that it will
demoralize you a little bit and also it will prevent you from looking back and learning from history. and trying to green lessons from the past. so, even while he is having fun with these platitudes, he is drawing really important lessons. >> host: the line about never compromise your principles, follow your star, don't compromise your principles and he says you better think twice about your principles. i if your principles are the same as hitler or lenin you ought to think twice. it's more important to be sure your principles are correct rather than in a sense blindly following principles that will lead you the wrong way. >> guest: he says, i'm here to tell you that it is much less important how committed you are than what you are committed to. if i have to choose, i will undoubtedly take the less dynamic, indeed even the lazy person, who knows what is right, than the zealot in the cause of
error. he may move slower but he is headed in the right direction. movement is not necessarily progress. more important than your obligation to follow your conscious or at least prior to it, is your obligation to form your conscience correctly. nobody -- remember this -- nobody ever proposed evil as such. neither hitler, nor lenin, nor any other despot you can name ever came forward with a process sal that read, let's create a really oppressive and evil society. and so, again, poking fun at this -- at the platitude in a humorous way ask then driving home a very serious point pretty clearly. >> host: i couldn't agree more. it's a way of actually delivering a high school commencement speech that says something significant and memorable, but he does it in the guise of making fun of or knocking down platitudes.
>> guest: this speech includes another -- he considers the platitude, the united states is the greatest country in the world. and he says, i don't mean to contradict this platitude but i think we need to consider for a moment why we believe this. he says believe this but i want to make sure we believe it for the right reason, which is kind of classic my father, even in his opinions. and so he goes on to explain why we should think the united states is the greatest country and he says, we are the greatest because of the good qualities of our people and because of the governmental system that gives room for those qualities to develop. and he goes on to elaborate on that. basically the constitution, not just the bill of lights but the framework of the constitution. >> host: there's a speech after that, too, where he spoke to law school classes and somebody is quited as saying she remembered this speech and i thought in that one, too, he talk about
what a lawyer does and what lawyer work is, and i thought in a very relatively concise speech. he talked about sort of a compulsive rescission with words and i've covered the court for a long time, and it was a surprise to me when started and still -- he said that they will spend a full hour, a major case comes up and frequently turns on what is the meaning of a particular word. and so he makes the point, that what lawyers do. we spend a long time trying to be precise about words. >> guest: i think this is the speech where he compares lawyers to poets, and he says, poets love ambiguity, they love vague language, the job of a lawyer is to remove language of all ambiguity and to be as clear as possible. he says if you have any interest
in being a poet, get out now. those two careers are at odds. he makes fun of poets a couple of times which is always funny to me because i like poetry. he has a great line when he -- there's another platitude he examines, a speech called legal kennard, like the graduation speech where he analyzes some common legal situation that he can't stand and one of them is, emerson's line 0, foolish consistency is hobgoblin of little minds and obviously not a legal expression but one that he onencounterred in briefs and he says, of emerson issue think in a generally sound poly to leave poets alone if they leave you alone, and he goes on to explain, he's not living us alleyne here so i have to analyze it. but the different type of writing and thinking necessary for a lawyer as other
professions, including in this case poets. >> host: tell me a little bit about your experience as the son of a -- you were in elementary school when he -- >> guest: yes. >> host: win on the court in 1986. >> guest: i was ten years old, yes. >> host: how did that changing ins in your life and around the house? >> guest: um, well, first, it helps to remember that growing up the most remarkable thing about my family on a day-to-day basis was that there were just so many of us i have eight siblings, and we weren't ever all nine of us living in the house at the same time but still a lot of news the house. so that was the most remarkable thing. i always -- we were all kind of a weird family, unusual family growing up. what changed in '86 was obviously just he was in papers more help was a federal judge
already and i knew that was kind of a big deal. but he didn't -- there wasn't a lot of media attention for that. but the day he was nominated, i remember watching -- seeing my dad on tv, and i remember the next day hanging out with some neighbors at the pool, and noticing that -- or just sensing that people were kind of talking about me, maybe that was just paranoia, but i think it's probably accurate. so, i just -- it became more public but i didn't really get a sense of how -- i didn't get a sense of the job's real significance going through mid schoolle and high school and then i understood what my dad was up to, what his job was, and really why he was -- the other justices were getting attention. and even with all of that, and
the eminence of his position, my dad made a point of being home every night for dinner. led the family in grace before meals every night. i took that for granted growing up. in fact sometimes i didn't like it because it pent we had to wait longer for dinner because of traffic or something like that. but now i don't have nearly as many kids as he did and i appreciate the efforts he took to make the family kind of a normal family, and especially growing up in the dc area, it is hard for a lot of parents to be home with their kids and spend time with their kidded. i'm really grateful my father did that. in some ways he was different from my friends' families but in other ways it was -- the ways noticed the most, it was pretty similar. >> host: that is impressive. one thing in a job like that in washington, you can have lot of
evening encounter a lot of travel and trips. >> guest: obvious his he went on trips. i mentioned in my introduction when every summer he and my mom would go on a -- good away to europe or something like that for a teaching/speaking excursion and my older siblings, never me, would take advantage of that by having a few friends over. but -- and after dinner he would get back to work. so i still knew he was busy, but that time was always -- >> host: did he do a lot of work at home in evening and weekends? >> guest: he did. evening he would up a go back -- go into his study, a study in the house, very -- i loved that study. bookshelves, a fireplace he never used, decorative fireplace, but the aura of the room always impressed me. he would read briefs in there and later in the career a
computer in there and he would type away on his opinions. >> host: so he did a lot of writing at home. >> guest: he did if would onwalk by there when the door was open and he'd be lean over the keyboard, look to go he screen or revising, or he had another reading cheer where he would read through the briefs. >> were the kid on notice, don't go in and interrupt dad? sunny don't remember him ever saying that. it was kind of a given. sometimes we had to -- we forgot we -- his study was right by the foyer so we would hang around there and be a little too loud and he would sometimes have to remind us but usually we kind of knew and we'd be upstairs doing our homework anyway, or downtown stairs watching tv, preferably. >> host: did you gopher up to the court and watch arguments or go to -- see him in action at different places? >> guest: well ex-did hear him gave few speeches. unfortunately i only saw one oral argue. i was really regret that.
my wife has a law degree, and we -- up until shortly before the dad died we didn't -- when we were award we never lived up here so didn't get a chance to see him together but i wish my wife got to see oral arguments. but i only saw one. i enjoyed it. but i wish -- i should have taken bert advantage of that opportunity while i had the chance. i took that for granted. went to court occasionally and visited his chambers or went to events there, just -- i loved going there. such an impressive building and a great aura. >> host: i had covered -- i actually started covering the court the summer he arrived in 1986, and everybody said dish didn't have a full appreciation of -- he changed the court and change the organize argument. there were no dull oral arguments when justice school would was there even if there was a dull argue.
he would ask a question that said, so, counsel, you want us to say the word blue really means back? we ask a question that put the lawyers on notice that he wasn't buying whatever they were saying, and it was -- anyway, he had a wonderful sense of sort of comic timing. and he is very smart guy, and if a lawyer would make an argument that didn't make a lot of sense, he would squint and then, bomb, give him a zinger. so it was -- a lot of reasons why the court says they don't want the oral arguments on television, but it's one of my regrets is that studented and the general public can't watch some arguments because -- they're interesting to begin with but he always enlivened the argument and pushed both sides and made it a more interesting -- when i start thread were a lot of very old justices who mostly would sit
there for the hour and listen. but justice scalia thought this was a sort of opportunity to go in there and ask the question that was on his mind and somebody ought to answer it. so he really enlive 'ed it and it continued on after that. there will not be anybody like justice scalia but the arguments are much more lively. >> guest: that's my understanding, too. he kind of changed things and brought that -- his brown is as a law professor. a law professor for some time and brought that professorial demeanor and changed oral argument so the point now if you don't speak, people think something is wrong with your approach. but, yeah, back then it was much more subdued and he brought a liveliness to it that most legal participate in now. >> host: reminds me of a joke
that in -- when he arrived in 1986 issue think lewis powell, the old virginian was there one year, retired the end of the year, and people said that justice powell thought the new guy, justice schoolarch asked too many questions and i remember -- i stopped to see now retired justice pow until richmond and i said were you bothered that justice scalia asked too many questions? and she said, you know, he was a law professor. they get to speak for the full hour. and so i okayed -- i thick it was at bit of way of saying, yes, marsh, but everybody basically caught up after a while, and he changed the arguments, and i think for all to the good because it is a much more lively exchange because of the justices are foolly engaged in -- fully engaged in asking questions. tell me about another -- there's an awful lot of speeches about subjects -- about his catholic faith, for example. a big theme of the book.
tell me something about one of those speeches or your thoughts on that. >> guest: i'll talk about a couple of his from that section. he really valued or put a great emphasis on his speeches about religion. probably second only to the speeches he delivered about the law. and he really refined these and polished these. one in particular that he delivered very often was the christian as cretan or he calledded the two thomases. and in that speech, he focused on -- or discusses the differences between thomas jefferson, the agree great founder, and st. thomas moor. one of my father's heroes. the year after my parents got married, they traveled around europe and they saw the robert bolt play, man for all seasons,
about thomas moore, and it really impressed both of them, and kind of really left a deep imprint on my father throughout his life. and what impressed him about thomas moore was his respect for the law and -- but also his devotion to his faith. it was possible to have both of those things. as oppose -- he contrasted that with thomas jefferson, who had a version of the bible that jefferson bible, he edited the bible, the new testament, the gospels, to remove references to anything miraculous or unbelievable. so, the jefferson new testament concludes with the death of christ. there's no resurrection. as just one example. and no miracles, obviously. so my father uses those two
important figures as contrasts and tells -- he delivers a speech often to groups of catholic lawyers and telling them that st. thomas moore is a great model for you and i willing just read the end of this speech. it is the hope of mores speakers to impart wisdom, and it has been my hope item port to those already wise in christ the courage to have their wisdom rather an steweddity. are we thought be fools in no doubt but as st. paul wrote to the corinthians we're fools for christ's sake and are we thought to be ease lid led in childish? christ described us as his sheep and said we should not get to heaven unless we became like little children. so, it was a reminder to a specifically christian audience of -- that they would be seen as peculiar to nonchristians,
particularly in secular environments, obviously. he always thought, that's speech was crucial to him and to kind of his set of speeches. he delivered that one often. and there's another speech he delivered quad faith in judging which is really important because it clarifies the relationship between his faith and the law, and i think it will disspell a lot of preconcessions people have of my -- precon sings people have the that a he was a theocrat. this speech makes is clear that his job as a justice is not to impose his religious beliefs or policy preferences on the law. and he gives the example of abortion. so, let me read a little bit
here. first, he says, just as there is no check way to cook a hamburger, so also there's no catholic way to interpret a text, analyze a historical tradition or dissenior the meaning and legitimacy of prior judicial opinions except of douser do those things honestly and perfectly and he goes on to explain how this amies to his attitudes towards abortion law. i find myself somewhat embarrassed, therefore, when catholics or other opponent offered abortion come forward to thank me for my position concerning dwayne roy row row, l them i deserve no thanks. that note an affirmation of my religious belief or a poll si chows about the suspect of lawyerly analysis of constitutional text and tradition. and that of legal analysis have produced the opposite conclusion, i would have had to come out the other way, regardless of their or my views concerning abortion.
my religious faith gives me a personal view of the right or wrong of abortion, but it cannot make a text say yes where it in fact says no or traditions say we permit, where in fact it has said we forbid. if my position on roe v. wade were a reflex of catholic beliefs and policy preferences would say the constitution permits the ban offering abortion but requires it. imaginative judges have derived results much more implausible than that from the constitution that sunrise person school be deprive off life, liberty or property without due process of law. in fact the constitution does not ban abortion anymore it confers right to abortion and no amount of relation south or zealous enthusiasm can change that. it's going back to the idea that -- similar to an idea in the speech about the art that just because you like a policy or differ like a policy doesn't mean it's defended or rejected
explicitly in the constitution. >> host: it's another very good passage for people to understand his view and his views on the law, and particularly something as controversial as abortion, because i think his consistent view all along was, constitution doesn't settle this, this is up to each state, and the country like this, if there were no roe v. wade, some states would allowabortion and some stations would forbid it but not decided be the constitution. >> guest: that was my father's general argument in favor of religion and against the living constitution approach to interpretation. he believed that the living constitution approach, which basically argues that the constitution evolves with the morals and standards of the times. so, as opposed to originalism,
whereby justices try to interpret the constitution according to its original public meaning. what it meant when it as recall identified and textualism is originalism for laws and statute us. what did it mean then? what did people think they were actually voting for on the senate floor? and he believed that the living constitution approach basically allowed justices to seize too much power from export -- voters and legislators by making them the arbiters of an ages or the country's morals and standards and values at any given time. so he had kind of a more modest view for judges -- view of a judge's jobs in a lot of ways. if the law doesn't say something, then the people have to fill in the gap. it's not the role of the joyce do that. >> host: let me -- he does talk about originalism a lot. it's an important idea, one of his favorite ideas. he talks about it to a lot of
different audiencessing including a speech called interpreting the constitution if says i am one of a small but hearty grew of judges and academics in the united states, who subscribe to the principle of constitutional interpretation known as originalism. originalists believe that the provisions of the constitution have a fixed meaning which does not change. they mean today what they meant when the were adopted, nothing more and nothing less. and that is one of those -- i find that appealing and i think most people do. i almost sort of regret in a book like this or whatever you don't have justice scalia answering questions about some of this, because the hard part is whether you take the provision to have a fixed narrow meaning or that it's a fixed principle. i know he dealt with this a few time. brown versus board of education
case is one way to illustrate it, 1954 the supreme court strikes down school segregation violate these squall protection clause the equal protection clause was added in 1868, no state made deny any person the equal progression of the law, the same congress allowed segregated schools in washington, dc. the 1890s, the supreme court and the separate -- allowed separate railroad cars. and then 1954 they changed directions and said, no, look at america today. having separate schools for blacks is inherently unequal. and so i think the hard question is, i think justice scalia's view was the equal protection clause forbids racial discrimination, always did, always -- but the very people who passed it didn't think it had that meaning. so if you said it only had that fixed meaning in the narrow
sense, of 1868, then it would suggest the brown versus board of education was a made-up new meanings. that's the debate. >> guest: and brown v board is particularly important one, obviously. he doesn't address that in his book as you mentioned but i believe he does in reading the law, book he work on. think he does -- i am not legally -- not an originalist myself. don't have a legal background but he does address that particular argument in another book. so i wish i could give you an answer now. he gives the example of women's suffrage and argument that they -- back then, nobody understood that to mean that women could vote. they believed that it meant they had to actually good out and fight for an amendment and win it that way. i don't know how that applies to
brian v. board. i wish i could give you an answer for that. >> host: it's one of the those things that justice scalia as a firm advocate for this view and almost seems like you sort of wish he were still their say, okay, but what about this? >> guest: one thing he says often, he doesn't think originalism is personality but is the best -- is perfect but the best approach. nor did hi think that originalists would always arrive at the same conclusion and the gives speeches examples of ins in -- instances in which he and justice thomas arrive at different ended of an opinion but both approaching it as originalist and gives the example of heller, the gun control case from 2008 or -- >> host: 2008. >> guest: so, even in that case, the minority decision also
took -- he wrote the majority and obviously he took an originalist approach, but the minority opinion also approached it i think not as thoroughly emphatically as onlyist but thank you used -- >> host: the second amendment says a well regulated militia being necessary to security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shat nothing be infringed and justice scalia's opinion goes back to the england and britain and basically says, the right to have a gun was always seen as a sort of central right, and justice stevens says, but look at what the second amendment was about state militias and they sort of go back and forth. think a lot of people thought it was one of those interesting situations where justice scalia's method or approach had sort of won over the court but it didn't actually resolve -- because both of them had a different view about the
original meaning of that provision. >> guest: my father's argument there -- he discussessed here and i don't remember the page number but at the time that clause, introductory clause was referring to a specific event that the founders would have been familiar with this other early americans would have been familiar with and it wasn't the only defense but kind of an aspect of many. >> host: for a lot of lawyers and i think justices of the court, one of the other great things he did -- you almost have to -- it's sort of hard to explain to an ordinary audience but this whole notion of text, that you interpret statutes based on what the text says. i people say what else would you do? but it actually was the case, when he came on the court, frequently the justices would say, what was the purpose of this statute? >> guest: yes. >> host: so, i remember a famous case from the 1970s.
1964 congress passed a law that says, may not discriminate. nobody may discriminate against employees because of their his, sex, gender. in the mid-1970s there was the question of affirmative action where companies were saying, we're going to -- every other new hire is going to be an african-american to make up for he a history -- so the question is do you follow the text which says don't discriminate against anybody on race or follow the purpose -- >> guest: that's a great example of that conflict. >> host: so, i do think it's not as discussed or controversial but i think justice scalia made an enormous difference of focusing the supreme court's attention and almost all judges, on, okay, but what does the statute actually say? let's not sort of think about what they were trying to do. what does it sully say?
so many arguments weapon to where he would basically get the lawyers to say, wait a minute, what does it actually say? and they'd spend the time focus on the words and it's really a wonderful dash very significant change. >> guest: the warren court took the onlyist approach much. father's attitude was he wasn't introducing anything new with originalism or textualism him was trying to basically revive those approaches, bring them back, and it always been that way until relatively recently, and again, that puts a lot of responsibility on lawmakers to craft their laws carefully to be precise with their language. also meant that my father didn't like looking at what is called legislative history. when focusing on the intent of a law, lawyers and judges would often look to congressional records, what did people say in
conference meetings, for example. what were they trying to hash out? one motor vehicle fathers argument against that was that the people voting on the law weren't voting on conference meetings. few of them were in the conference meet little or even knew about the internal discussions. they were voting on what the law actually said. the proper text of the law. so that's what the people were voting on. that's what the representatives were voting on so that's what the justices should be interpreting and focusing on. he also pointed out that legislative history, once congressional staff and congressmen and women realize that lawyers and judges were looking at congressional -- legislative history, they could basically doctor it. to read a statement to get a pick interpretation in the congressional record so it could be used as legislative history when judges are trying to interpret the law. even if itself had no actual -- if it had no actual appearance
in the tex itself. >> host: he had the advantage being a justice department lawyer before he went on the court because he saw that in what was happening. i think he knew that became sort of a game, that the committee staff would take a report and file a report with the bill and says here's what this really meant. this danger was it wasn't necessarily part of the agreement. it was sort of -- and he has done a great, i think to lessen the focus on legislative history and it's one of the many delightful things in this -- we have basically run out of time, but i wanted to thank you and ed whalen for doing a wonderful job of putting together these speeches. i think great read for a lot of lawyers and a lot of interested people because it not only talks about the law and does it in an engaging way, he talks bat whole
lot of other specks of his life and makes for a wonderful read. >> guest: thank you so much. an honor to work on the book and pleasure to talk to you about it. >> host: thank you, christopher. >> tomorrow more live coverage of the con conservative political action conference with remark bid budget director, and house intelligence committee chair. live coverage starts at 12:40 p.m. eastern time on c-span2. ...
sunday night on "after words", author tara talks about going up with survivalist parents in the idaho mountains in her book, educated: a memoir. she is interviewed by author and journalist susanna. >> a lot of people seem to have taken to heart this idea that to learn something have to have a degree and you have to have a full institution in place to teach it to you. i'm grateful to my parents that i was not raised to think that is when i decided i wanted to go
to college when i was 16 it felt like something i could do, not because i had formal education but okay, i need to learn algebra. i will buy a book and i will learn it. i didn't do an amazing job but i barely got into university but kept going with that. i think, yeah, my parents took it too far. i arrived at university really unprepared. i want to raise my hand in the class and asked the holocaust was and i have never heard of it. people thought i was denying it and i wasn't, i never heard of it before. i would say this is the ideal education, i would not say that what "after words" on sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on the tv he's been to. >> monday on c-span's landmark cases. we will look at this court case mcculloch first maryland the case that solidified the government's ability to take action not explicitly named in the constitution and restricted straight action against the use of power. we explore this case and i
culturally with university of virginia associate law professor sarah peterson and mark university of arkansas law professor and author of mcculloch v maryland, shattering the nation. watch live monday at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, sees .org or listen to the free c-span radio at. order a copy of landmark cases companion book available for $8.95 plus shipping and handling at c-span .org/landmark cases. for an additional resource there is a link on a website to the national constitution center's interactive constitution. >> next, under tvs "after words" women's march on washington cochair linda reflects on the 2017 march and what is ahead for the movement. she is interviewed by heather mcgee, president of the most action. "after words" is a weekly interview program with relevant guest ht