Skip to main content

Amy Davidson is one of The New Yorker magazine's social observers at large. In her recent "Scalia in Verse", she prepared a poem comprised entirely of the italicized words in selected opinions of noted Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

Her poem was delightful but apparently, she did not regard it as sufficient to the day. So she invited readers to contribute, to recompose "Scalia dissents ... with even greater poetic possibilities." She just scratched the surface, pricking our collective consciences. Entries are still being submitted.

'Neath Kos's poetic squiggle is my offering. (Prideful, but also mindful of copyright issues, I use here only mine.) Its title and text consist solely of words employed by the distinguished Justice in his dissent in the DOMA case. Remember, poetic license was called for. The words are rearranged, taken out of context, rampant with elisions and punctuation changes, but subtracted only, not added. Who knew how closely the voluble Justice Scalia could verge on iambic pentameter?

Come on gang. You can do even better. And ... Blessings to Amy Davidson for starting the newest trend in Poetry Writ Large, Variations on a Theme from the Highest Court in the Land.


We might have covered ourselves
with honor today.
It is this proposition with which
I will therefore engage.

Sometimes (though not always)
by accident, as it were,
The matter would have been left
as so many matters ought to be
to a tug of war.

It is just a matter of listening
and waiting for the other shoe.
The question has come out differently
on different occasions.

I find it wryly amusing
there are many perfectly valid —
indeed, downright boring —
many remarkable things
beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement.

The penultimate sentence
of the majority's opinion
is a naked declaration,
a claim that would of course be quite absurd.

It takes real cheek for today's majority
to assure us, as it is going out the door,
whatever disappearing trail
of its legalistic argle-bargle
one chooses to follow.

Hate your neighbor or come along with us.
The truth is more complicated. It is hard
to admit that one's political opponents
are not monsters.

The object of this condemnation — that
is not animus — just stabilizing prudence.

Any panel of like-minded federal judges
can be characterized as mean-spirited,
unhinged members of a wild-eyed lynch mob,
when one first describes their views as they see them.

One could spend many fruitless afternoons ransacking.
Here no one does.
Nothing like that is present here.

Unimaginable evil this is not.
We will have to live with the chaos.
That is as it should be
if what we say is true.

But the Court has cheated both sides,
robbing the winners of an honest victory,
and the losers of the peace
that comes from a fair defeat.
We owed both of them better.

Similarly transposable passages —
deliberately transposable, I think —

I will not swell the U. S. Reports
with restatements of that point.


Here's to poetic license!

66%4 votes
16%1 votes
0%0 votes
16%1 votes
0%0 votes

| 6 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 08:55:25 AM PDT

  •  This one, I think. (0+ / 0-)

    But the Court has cheated both sides,
    robbing the winners of an honest victory,
    and the losers of the peace
    that comes from a fair defeat.
    We owed both of them better.

    This  one, I think.  Or, would think if not for the fearsome five justices, still in office.  Who knows what an unhinged tomorrow brings

    Time is a long river.

    by phonegery on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 09:53:37 AM PDT

  •  Methinks Judge Scalia took word salad lessons (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Columbus, a2nite

    from Sarah.

    “The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.” - Gore Vidal

    by Hanging Up My Tusks on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 10:03:55 AM PDT

    •  Probably he's just upset that now he will (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      be forced to gay-marry now that the "gay agenda" (his actual words) has been imposed.

      Brilliant legal brain you got there, Scalia, taking your words right off the Fox TelePrompter.

      "I wonder why Congress again in a new poll out today--11% approval rating. (It's) because they don't work for us. They work for the sons-of-bitches who pay them." Cenk Uygur

      by Dave in Columbus on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 10:16:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "argle-bargle"?? WTF? (0+ / 0-)

    If I had the energy I suppose I could go find it, but really, in a Supreme Court dissent?  Argle-bargle?

    •  A British term, don't you know! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      According to one dictionary, synonyms are:

      battle royal, bicker, brawl, contretemps, controversy, cross fire, disagreement, dispute, donnybrook, falling-out, fight, hassle, imbroglio, kickup, misunderstanding, quarrel, rhubarb, row, scrap, set-to, spat, squabble, tiff, wrangle.
      The phrase just jumps off the page of Scalia's dissent.

      So there!

      2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

      by TRPChicago on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:16:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  On the Ten Commandments displays... (0+ / 0-)

    that nonbelievers find offensive in government buildings.."Turn your eyes away if it is such a big deal to you."

    "If we can not have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?"

  •  Scalia's Morals (0+ / 0-)

    If Scalia is morally opposed to Gay sex and Gay marriage, he should not do either. The question here is whether you should be treated different in housing, government benefits, employment, hospital visitation, wills, estates, trusts, insurance, and TAXATION.

    At the start of this issue the government should have changed all marriages to civil agreements and reserved the word marriage for your particular religious kink. The civil agreement would indicate no expectation, rights, or obligations for sex. Sexual activity between consenting adults is none of the government's business. Then any two people who agree to look out for each other and be in the same family could get a civil agreement. This would be great for elderly widows or elderly childless people who wish to share their remaining days and make taxation and all property transfer at death simple. People dying of terminal diseases could also get a civil agreement.

    Other than the increased divorce(or whatever we call it) rate the government would be better off with more of these issues solved outside of court.

  •  Almost makes him sound coherent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but still irrational.

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 06:09:47 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site