For Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, it’s been a rough few days.
Not only did Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who had seemed to be Scalia’s conservative-brother-in-arms, cast the decisive vote upholding President Obama’s health-care overhaul, but earlier in the week, in his dissent on the Arizona immigration law, Scalia trod all over the idea that the Supreme Court is above politics.
In a little-noticed (at first) rejection of the high court’s majority opinion that much of the Arizona statute was preempted by federal law, the ever-quotable and occasionally controversial Scalia said that the ruling “boggles the mind” — particularly in light of Obama’s recent decision to stop deporting some illegal immigrants under 30 if they were brought here by their parents as children.
“The president has said that the new program is ‘the right thing to do’ in light of Congress’s failure to pass the administration’s proposed revision of the immigration laws,” Scalia wrote. “Perhaps it is, though Arizona may not think so.”
Scalia’s critics seized on the comment as evidence that the conservative justice had put his politics before the law. E.J. Dionne Jr., a liberal columnist for The Washington Post, went as far as to call for his resignation, writing: “What boggles the mind is that Scalia thought it proper to jump into this political argument.”
Scalia isn’t likely to take Dionne’s advice — and this week of controversy is likely to be the smallest of ripples when one looks back on the breadth of his career. And a bad week can turn into a good week down the line; just ask a past worst week winner, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who was dinged for his poor performance in arguing the administration’s health-care case before the court in March. He had to be breathing a sigh of relief when the verdict came down Thursday morning.
Antonin Scalia, for showing too much partisan political leg, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
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