William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


Meghan J. Ryan


Justice Antonin Scalia is among the most famous Supreme Court Justices in history. He is known for his originalism and conservative positions, as well as his witty and acerbic legal opinions. One of the reasons Justice Scalia’s opinions are so memorable is his effective use of rhetorical devices, which convey colorful images and understandable ideas. One might expect that such powerful opinions would be effective in shaping the law, but Justice Scalia’s judicial philosophy was often too conservative to persuade a majority of his fellow Justices on the Supreme Court. Further, his regular criticisms of his Supreme Court colleagues were not conducive to building majority support for his reasoning. Hoping to still have a lasting impact on the law, Justice Scalia seemed to direct his rhetoric at a different audience. Instead of focusing on persuading his Supreme Court colleagues, Justice Scalia concentrated on persuading the general public. Instead of shaping law in the traditional trickle-down manner, Justice Scalia sought to shape it from the bottom up.