Professionalism and the Notorious RBG

Much has been written about improving behavior in the legal profession, but U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s statement on the death of her colleague Antonin Scalia is a personal testament as how and when lawyers and judges can agree to disagree.  The two Justices were “best buddies” and fellow opera buffs despite occupying opposite ends of the ideological bench at the Supreme Court.  Said Ginsburg, referring to an opera written about their relationship

Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: "We are different, we are one," different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots-the "applesauce" and "argle bargle"-and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh. The press referred to his "energetic fervor," "astringent intellect," "peppery prose," "acumen," and "affability," all apt descriptions. He was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader's grasp.

Ginsburg’s eloquent requiem for her friend reminds us that differences in legal positions need not preclude mutual admiration, respect, or friendship.  

Or as Scalia once observed of Ginsburg: “What’s not to like, except for her views on the law.”  

Posted: 2/16/2016 3:50:01 PM by On the Merits Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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