The Right Coast

February 03, 2005
Nino speaks out
By Tom Smith

Scalia is growing on me. Here's a report on a talk he gave, which I think he has given before, to the effect that it is OK to be an old-fashioned Catholic. I am not an old-fashioned Catholic, more of a wimpy Catholic, but I like old-fashioned Catholicism and am heartened when Scalia speaks out for it. My problem with Scalia is not his views. I find myself agreeing with him most of the time. I think, however, that he is a grump. An extremely grumpy man. I think the other justices would find having him as the Chief very tedious, and I don't see how that helps the cause. Some people are under the impression that Justice Scalia is a jolly fellow who makes lots of jokes at parties. My impression is that he is smart enough to figure out that this is a politic way to behave, and so does so occassionally. But while I was a humble clerk on the D.C. Circuit, Nino was busy lunching with various officials from the White House and DOJ, while the allegedly demonic Judge Bork was schmoozing with clerks. My worm's eye impression was that Nino was not the sort of fellow to ever forget the vast gulf that separated clerk and judge, or just those who could help him and those who couldn't, while Bork and that other villian, Ken Starr, were eager to do so whenever some opportunity presented itself. I can only imagine that the likes of Justice Ginsberg and O'Connor would hate it very much to be lorded over by a CJ Nino. While they may deserve to be miserable, the former for being too clever and the latter for being too dumb, I don't see how the ladies being in a state of permanent repressed fury would help the cause of ordered liberty and all that other good stuff. With the possible exception of Thomas, the other Justices would really hate it too, even if they could be temporarily convinced that they would not. They would come to, of that I am sure. But, that being said, it takes stones to give these Catholic speeches that Scalia has been giving; he's probably not a plausible candidate for CJ anyway, and the speeches just seal the deal. You could ask me, well, whom would I prefer, Nino or Sheriff Sandra Day? That is a grossly unfair question. Nino, of course. I would prefer grumpiness over dumbellitude any day.