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Post-Event Summary
Before an audience at AEI on Tuesday, Justice Antonin Scalia delivered valuable insights into the interpretive methods by which judges should decide constitutional statutory cases and attorneys should argue them. Distilling his comprehensive book on legal interpretation titled “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts,” Justice Scalia explained why, in his view, constitutional interpretation must be rooted in the document’s meaning as understood at the time of its adoption. If interpreters stray from this originalist approach, the meaning of the document becomes subject to individual whims.

Justice Scalia’s brief remarks were followed by an extensive question-and-answer session in which the discussion ranged from the role of precedent in Justice Scalia’s theory of interpretation — especially when it conflicts with the original understanding of the Constitution — to advice for law schools and law students to the justice’s favorite Founding Father, George Washington. Justice Scalia treated the attentive audience to an engaging, at times erudite and at times folksy, but always genial conversation with one of the most revered and influential legal minds of our time.

—Brad Wassink

Event Description
As we celebrate the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, and as the Supreme Court prepares to open a new term, Justice Antonin Scalia and noted legal lexicographer Bryan Garner have released a new book, “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.” In this comprehensive volume, the authors address key questions surrounding the relationship between written laws and their drafters and interpreters, including: Do fundamental principles exist for interpreting legal texts? From where are those principles derived? Do they exist independent of the will of the interpreter, and are they binding on judges?

Join Justice Scalia for a discussion of these important issues at this book forum cosponsored by the Federalist Society and AEI. A wine and cheese reception will follow, and books will be available for purchase.


3:45 PM

4:00 PM
Opening Remarks:
Eugene B. Meyer, The Federalist Society

4:05 PM
Henry Olsen, AEI
4:10 PM
Keynote Address:
Justice Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court of the United States

4:30 PM

Henry Olsen, AEI

5:15 PM
Adjournment and Wine and Cheese Reception

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Brad Wassink at [email protected], 202.862.7197.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at [email protected], 202.862.4871.

Speaker Biographies

Eugene B. Meyer, president of the Federalist Society, has served as executive director and CEO of the organization for 30 years. He is responsible for shepherding the organization from a small group of law students into a community of 45,000 lawyers, law students, academics, judges and others interested in the rule of law. The Society now includes a student chapter at every American Bar Association-accredited law school in the country and lawyers chapters in 65 major cities across the nation. Meyer has served as a board member for the U.S. Chess Center and is currently on the board of the Holman Foundation. He holds the title of international chess master and has served as a Philadelphia Society trustee.

Henry Olsen is vice president and director of the National Research Initiative (NRI) at AEI. He disseminates and publicizes AEI’s work to the academic community; works with AEI’s visiting, adjunct and NRI research fellows and commissions and supervises NRI projects and oversees the production of NRI publications. Olsen previously served as vice president for programs at the Manhattan Institute and as a judicial clerk to Danny J. Boggs, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Justice Antonin Scalia is an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He began his career in private practice in Cleveland, Ohio (1961–67), was a professor of law at the University of Virginia (1967–71) as well as at the University of Chicago (1977–82) and was a visiting professor of law at Georgetown University and Stanford University. Justice Scalia was chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section of Administrative Law (1981–82) and its Conference of Section Chairmen (1982–83). He served the federal government as general counsel of the Office of Telecommunications Policy (1971–72), was chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States (1972–74) and was assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel (1974–77). He was appointed judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1982. President Reagan nominated him as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat on September 26, 1986. In addition to law review articles and hundreds of judicial opinions, he is the author of the books “A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law” (1998) and, with Bryan Garner, “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges,” (2008) and “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts” (2012).

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