Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia came to address a national convention of Australian lawyers. I had requested a top constitutional lawyer and was delighted when Washington headquarters at the U.S. Information Agency in 1986 told me Justice Scalia would spend a week on the program I had suggested. He gave a brilliant exposition on the origins of the American Constitution at the big lawyers convention. His close interpretation of how the Constitution should be read in contemporary America was impressive. The several hundred lawyers loudly applauded his scholarly, but lively lecture.
I had arranged for him to speak also with smaller groups including an informal luncheon address to Sydney's High Court judges. The High Court Chief Justice was especially proud of their long court pedigree, illustrated in their private chambers by large portraits of all the Chief Justices. Justice Scalia also met informally in board rooms with leading Sydney lawyers and in the New South Wales Parliament House with top political figures, talking about U.S. constitutional issues. I got new insights into Aussie life and politics by being with him at all those meetings.
Our constitutional law faced many problems similar to those in Australia, thanks in part to our shared heritage of English common law and modern social developments.
His lectures were first rate, as might be expected from a former Columbia law professor and Supreme Court judge. Among the many judges I worked with across the years, he was the most brilliant and persuasive, with an orderly, quick mind, full of apposite parallels and funny, warm asides, a perfect speaker on the U.S. Constitution. I did not always share his opinions but enjoyed his ebullient personality and wit a lot.
I accompanied him around Sydney several days, then flew with him to Brisbane, Queensland, where he addressed judicial and academic groups in the state capital. Queensland is Australia's "Deep North" famous for its sugar cane, tropical fruits, rainforests, endless golden beaches, hot, humid weather, occasional typhoons, astonishingly baroque politics, and magnificent Barrier Reef. Queensland University very impressively adapted Oxford architecture in brick, but with more spacious grounds than in England. Justice Scalia spoke to both professors and students in lectures and lively discussions.
After his meetings with local judicial and political figures, we set off in a rented car for an informal tour of the best of...