June 26, 2015

MUMMERIES, PUTSCH, AND HUBRIS. The 3 words of the day, in my view, reading Justice Scalia’s dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges. Scalia accuses the majority of engaging in “mummeries,” and a “mummery” is a “Ridiculous ceremony (formerly used esp. of religious ritual regarded as pretentious or hypocritical).” That’s from the Oxford English Dictionary. “Putsch” and “hubris” come up in a single phrase: “the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch.” A “putsch” is “An attempt to overthrow a government, esp. by violent means; an insurrection or coup d’état.” That’s the OED again. “Hubris” Scalia himself defines. It’s “o’erweening pride.” To which he adds that “pride, we know, goeth before a fall.” I don’t see how Scalia comes across as any less hubristic for taking the dissenting side. There’s “hubris” in the mummery of humility. You see that all the time in judges. As for “putsch”… that’s one of these silly extravagances. (“Silly extravagances” — I got that phrase from the Scalia opinion: “It is one thing for separate concurring or dissenting opinions to contain extravagances, even silly extravagances, of thought and expression; it is something else for the official opinion of the Court to do so.”)

ADDED: There are some abusive comments on this post, which I depict on my home blog here. Some of the abuse is based on the misimpression that I only mined Scalia’s opinion for these language tidbits, but I go through the whole thing at length on my home blog, here.

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