Joan Biskpuic on Justice Scalia; Scalia not Satisifed with current Court, “Damn Few Wins”

December 4th, 2009

Joan Biskupic, author of thew new book, “American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia” gave an interview to CNN. Some highlights.

On Nino’s influence on the Court:

Stevens, the senior liberal, has dueled with Justice Scalia dozens of times, from Bush v. Gore [the 2000 presidential election dispute] to recent dilemmas testing the Guantanamo detainees. Justice Ginsburg, his closest friend on the court, sees his influence beyond the marble walls, and that’s the way I’ve been mostly viewing him until the recent terms. He is influential with conservative acolytes. Within the court, he certainly alienated [now-retired Justice Sandra Day] O’Connor, Justice [Harry] Blackmun, and in some ways Justice [Anthony] Kennedy. It made his influence rather slight for years — he really didn’t want to deal, to negotiate with his colleagues in rulings. Despite a charming personality in many ways, he told me he had nothing to trade. He was just plain firm about where he wanted to go, and he wouldn’t settle for half a loaf.

The addition of Chief Justice [John] Roberts and Justice [Samuel] Alito on the bench allowed him to win more. And in recent terms, there has a been a culmination, a resurgence, on what he is able to do, now with the [conservative] bodies coming on the court to support him. But he told me he was still not satisfied. “The wins,” he told me, “Damn few.”

I am working on a JoshCast with Joan Biskupic sometime next week. Stay tuned.