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Good Reads: Israel's Iran debate, Scalia's 'originalism,' and blasphemy in Pakistan

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The strength of Horovitz’s analysis is that it captures not just the rational arguments, but the emotional charge as well.  He gets to the fire and the fear driving both sides, making clear why the debate has so gripped Israel. 

When the legal serf dictates to the king

The American federal judiciary tends to be a low-profile bunch.  With life tenures, federal judges can – and do – eschew the limelight to maintain the veneer of impartial adjudicators. As a result, intrajudiciary debates over judicial philosophy and technique tend to stay in the halls of academia and the courtrooms, and out of the streets and sidewalks where they would draw the public eye.  And when they do occur in the courtrooms, they tend to be one-sided: Higher courts dictate to lower, and it is not for lower courts to question what they are told.

That is what makes Judge Richard Posner’s review in The New Republic of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s new book, “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts,” so interesting: it inverts the usual procedure, and in a very public way.

Justice Scalia is one of the most influential conservative jurists of the modern era, being the leading proponent of “textual originalism,” the philosophy of interpreting laws according to what the words of the law meant at the time that they were written.  “Reading Law,” cowritten with Bryan A. Gardner, is an explanation of the textual originalist philosophy.  And as a Supreme Court justice, Scalia tends to get the final word on the law.

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