L.A. Times: "Criminal defendants find an unlikely friend in Justice Scalia"


Writing in the Los Angeles Times, David Savage argues that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia "has led an unusual pro-defendant faction at the high court in reversing convictions for murder, drug dealing, wife beating and drunken driving." As Savage writes:

Sometimes, Scalia's insistence on following the "original" Constitution leads to unexpected results. And for him, there are no shades of gray and no halfway measures.

The 6th Amendment to the Constitution says the "accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him." To Scalia, this clause not only gives defendants the right to challenge actual witnesses, but also the right to bar testimony from all those "witnesses" who did not or cannot testify in court. He takes this view even if the witness is dead….

"This is not a left-right split. This is principle versus pragmatism," said University of Michigan law professor Richard Friedman. For Scalia, "this is all about adhering to originalism," regardless of whether the results seem strange.

Read the whole story here. Back in 2008, Jacob Sullum surveyed Scalia's jurisprudence on issues ranging from the Fourth Amendment to the war on terror and concluded that "Scalia's not half-bad," which is "more than you can say for most justices." As for the bad half of Scalia's half-bad record, I discuss some of it here.