Scalia/Ginsburg: Opera & Civility

Posted on July 17, 2013 by

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Scalia Ginsburg Opera CivilitySupreme Court Justices Scalia and Ginsburg see the Constitution quite differently. When it comes to the most salient issues (like gay marriage, abortion, and racial preferences), the antipodes verbally combat and vote on opposing blocs. Scalia is wedded to original understanding, a philosophy that emphasizes both text and historical context, while Ginsburg is more organic, with evolving culture providing her guidelines for understanding the law.

What most people do not know, is that the two are actually good friends. They enjoy discussing their opposing views and they are drawn together by a mutual love of opera. In this way, Scalia and Ginsburg are models for how bitter disagreements can be transcended by mutual respect and common interests.

Of course, these things have come together in a new opera. Derrick Wang, a musician and law school graduate, says he heard music while reading through Scalia’s dissenting opinions and the idea of Scalia/Ginsburg was born. National Public Radio has a story about the opera that is well worth examining. Also, BE SURE to click on the “listen to the story” option at the top of the page and you will be treated to the actual musical excerpts.

*Thanks to former students Leanna Baumer and Kelly Miller for sending along the link to this story. Good catch.

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