Justice Scalia was ever the originalist, as in John Strand’s eponymous play

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL February 15, 2016
The Originalist

The Originalist, the play being performed in D.C.

The death of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia brought to mind ‘The Originalist’. How could it not? John Strand’s play on the first Italian-American SC justice, premiered in D.C. last year, capturing the essence of the man’s persona. His acumen, sarcasm, cadences, bluster, devotion to textualism, the minute study of every word (and intention) of the US constitution.

Just to declare an interest, I have done some work side by side with Mr Strand – virtually, I have never met him. But, I always found it extraordinary that anyone can do a watchable play based on someone who must by definition be austere.

I suppose that’s why the late Justice Scalia made a good subject. He was rigid about originalism – interpreting the US Constitution in the way it meant at the time rather than as a ‘living’ document – but hardly ossified himself.

If anything, the judge (who was the longest serving member of the current Supreme Court) was said to be full of life – sarcasm, pithy asides, the full range of the performer’s arts.

Many opposed his interpretation of the US Constitution – and justice in 21st century America – but few would say Justice Scalia was anything other than an original.