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Scalia, Scalia, Scalia: A Review of All Things Nino

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on July 24, 2015 1:59 PM

You might be forgiven for sometimes forgetting that there are nine Justices on the Supreme Court. After all, when it comes to getting attention in the news, not even the "Notorious RBG" can surpass Justice Scalia's reach. Love him or hate him, Justice Antonin "Nino" Scalia is by far the most well-known of The Nine.

That popularity, or notoriety, has spawned a whole Scalia industry. There are Scalia books, Scalia dolls, Scalia op-eds, Scalia operas. There's enough Scalia to keep you busy throughout the Court's whole recess. Here's a quick overview.

The Greatest or Worst Written Pieces

Scalia's biting writing style -- he's ranked as the most sarcastic Justice ever -- shines the most when he's in the minority. His sharp tongue earns Scalia's dissents extra notice. You rarely heard about Justice Roberts' dissent in Obergefell, though it was just as strong as Scalia's. Justice Thomas, so often on his own, is rarely noted. But Scalia -- his quips inspire legions of writers.

Here are two such pieces that deserve your attention. In The New Republic, Jeet Heer makes the case for Justice Scalia in "Antonin Scalia Is the Supreme Court's Greatest Writer." He's up there with Cardozo and Holmes, Heer argues.

Erwin Chemerinsky, U.C. Irvine Law School dean, and America's second-most cited legal scholar, disagrees. Scalia's acerbic tone is seeping into legal writing -- and ruining it. His "nasty, sarcastic and personal" writing is childish and vain, Chemerinsky writes in the Los Angeles Times.

The Plays and Operas

A dramatic judge inspires dramatic treatment. Scalia has had his legal career turned into high art twice in 2015. First, there's John Strand's play "The Originalist," which debuted in Washington, D.C., in April. The play focuses on Scalia's judicial philosophy as it plays out during the Court's ruling in Windsor, the case striking down DOMA.

There's also the opera "Scalia/Ginsburg." As we've noted before, the comic opera is based on the long-standing friendship between Justices Scalia and Ginsburg, taking its inspiration from Mozart, Verdi, and other masters. It's one of the few operas that's ever been Blue Booked.

The Books

Scalia isn't just a prolific writer of Supreme Court opinions, he's also got several published books to his name. (Granted, some are simply republished opinions.) If you want the best of his dissents, and you do, there's "Scalia Dissents" an anothology of his greatest minority opinions. If you want more information on his legal philosophy, Scalia has written two books, "Reading Law" and "A Matter of Interpretation."

For something more removed, there's "Scalia: A Court of One." This new-ish Scalia biography has received strong reviews. The Times called it "skeptical, often critical ... but free of snark." We'd be remiss not to recommend Jeffrey Toobin's "The Nine." This great biography of the High Court isn't just about Scalia, but it has enough of him to satisfy, while covering the rest of the Court in-depth.

The Doll

That's doll, singular. If you're a big enough fan that you need a Scalia of your own, the Scalia bobblehead is for you. Justice Scalia can nod along to your words this time! Getting your hands on the Scalia bobblehead won't be easy, however. Only one exists and it's housed in the Yale law library.

The Drinks

Alright, so there's no official, Court-sanctioned drink for Justice Scalia, but we at FindLaw have one we think will do. If you want to drink to the Justice, try downing a Fernet and ginger. Like Justice Scalia, Fernet hails from Italy. Like Scalia, the drink is bitter (think herbal-flavored Listerine), but with a strong following. Pair a shot with the Scalia-inspired tartness of ginger ale or ginger beer, and you've got yourself a proper toast to Nino.

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