Liberal Lawyer Who Clerked for Scalia Sings His Praise
When I was in law school, a Supreme Court clerkship was the Holy Grail. For me, it was clerking for Justice Antonin Scalia. Now that I’m a partner in a law firm that serves the notoriously progressive entertainment industry, the fact that I once clerked for Scalia often elicits looks of surprise from those sitting across from me, who ask if I’m the functional equivalent of a unicorn — a conservative in Los Angeles — a place that Scalia had amusingly warned me would “melt my brain.” I tell them, no, I’m politically liberal, but that my time working for the justice was one of the defining experiences of my life.
I’d heard all through law school that Scalia always hired one liberal clerk, though my sense is that this practice had waned in recent years. In fact, the process of applying for a Supreme Court clerkship entails applying to all nine justices — the notion being that justices choose clerks and not the other way around. But Justice Scalia was the person for whom I most wanted to work, not because we were ideologically aligned, but because we were not. It had to do with the way he was so deeply vilified — both personally, and as a jurist — by so many of my classmates. He was discussed in almost cartoonish fashion, conjuring images of twirled mustaches and barely-concealed devil horns. It was a time, just after Bush v. Gore and 9/11, when battle lines had been drawn, and it was politically correct to reject wholesale any belief that was not your own.
That approach made me uncomfortable, and I found myself becoming more and more interested in Justice Scalia’s work, eager to understand how someone so clearly brilliant could see the world so differently than I did. It’s why I took the job.
This entire article is worth a read. My colleague Scott Ott made me aware of it and said, "In one essay she debunks everything the Left has told us about Scalia."
There was always a stark contrast between the cartoon-monster Scalia that garden-variety liberals portrayed and the way prominent liberals who actually worked with him felt. That pretty much sums up a general American approach to politics these days: create a caricature of the opposition, demonize the opposition based on the caricature, and watch all political debate swirl down the toilet forever.
I used to be very adept at finding common ground with people on the other side of the political aisle. Having spent most of my adult life in an industry where almost everyone was on the other side, that was a useful habit. I'm not so good at that anymore, and I can't blame the media, social media, the Democrats, or anyone else for that--it's all on me. I'm a conservative, and I wouldn't be a very good one if I started blaming others for my behavior.
In politics, even the most disparate partisans can have some common ground. Even if none can be found, there has to be some inherent value in a willingness to look for it (yes, I'm preaching to myself).