Since his appointment to the United States Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, Justice Antonin Scalia has been (to borrow a felicitous phrase from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.) a "brooding omnipresence" over the constitutional landscape, revered by conservatives and reviled by liberals This first Italian-American justice has electrified American constitutional law (and, thereby, American politics) by his firm and largely unfaltering commitment to the idea that the "original meaning" of the Constitution is the only legitimate basis for judicial decision. Any other approach, he insists, is nothing less than "a standing invitation to judicial arbitrariness and policy-driven decision making".

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Copyright © 2006 The Times Literary Supplement Limited. This article first appeared in The Times Literary Supplement (London), no. 5399 (September 22, 2006): 7.

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