When Justice Scalia arrived at the Supreme Court in 1986, its jurisprudence had become sloppy, results-driven, plagued with fuzzy three-part tests and fuzzier four-part tests, all of them concocted by his predecessors with little basis in constitutional text. Today, the entire court — even the liberal justices — have adopted Justice Scalia’s style: close attention to text, awareness of history, analytical rigor. The Supreme Court has not announced an impressionistic multipart “test” in years. . . .
His opinions make clear their premises. They follow logically. Sometimes students point out that Justice Scalia is not being true to his principles. That is a compliment, because it means he has principles that can be identified and objectively applied. Many justices have no principles for interpreting the Constitution, other than to see in it their own opinions about the issues of the day. Every year, in Constitutional Law, a liberal student will raise his or her hand and say, sheepishly, “I never thought I would say this, but I agree with Scalia.” That is because his highest commitment was to rational deduction from our highest law.