C-SPAN: Justice Ginsburg discusses ‘Scalia/Ginsburg’ opera at Georgetown Law
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discusses Derrick Wang’s opera Scalia/Ginsburg in an April 6, 2018 interview with Professors Mary Hartnett and Wendy Williams at Georgetown University Law Center.
Video link (C-SPAN): https://cs.pn/2HpiDc7
Prof. Wendy Williams (WW): Also, I can’t resist this one last question. It’s sort of a question. There is an opera that you may be familiar with called Scalia/Ginsburg…
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG): [chuckles]
WW: Yes, you know the opera. And it features arias by the Ginsburg person and the Scalia person, and you’re at loggerheads, and so your two different philosophies of interpreting the Constitution of the United States emerge in what feels like a big battle. Now when I read [the] VMI [case], I see that battle going on in that case, especially on Justice Scalia’s side. He was appalled. He was the single dissenter, and he was appalled by your decision in that case.
RBG: Not really. He fully expected it.
RBG [cont’d]: But let me give (I know we’re running out of time, but) just the flavor of Scalia/Ginsburg, the comic opera. His entrance aria is a rage aria; for those who know music, it’s true Händelian in style, and it goes like this:
“The Justices are blind!
How can they possibly spout this?
The Constitution says absolutely nothing about this!”
Then I enter, and in my lyric-soprano voice…
RBG [cont’d]: …I sing, “You are searching for bright-line solutions for problems that don’t have easy answers. But, the great thing about our Constitution is that, like our society, it can evolve.” And so that sets up the difference. Then, toward the end, there is a duet —
WW: Yes —
RBG: And the duet is — Well, first, I should tell you, Scalia is locked in a dark room being punished for excessive dissenting.
RBG [cont’d]: And I enter (if the stage can manage it) through a glass ceiling — to help him…
RBG [cont’d]: … take the tests he has to pass to get out of the dark room. And the person who is administering the tests says, “Why would you want to help him? He’s your enemy!” And I explain, “He is not my enemy. He is my dear friend.” And then we sing, “We are different, we are one” — different in our approach to the interpretation of legal texts, but one in our reverence for the U.S. judiciary and our fundamental instrument of government.
Prof. Mary Hartnett: Yes.
WW: Thank you.