McGeorge School of Law

Justice Scalia: Rhetoric and the Rule of Law

Edited by Brian Slocum and Francis J. Mootz III. A Proposed Book for the University of Chicago Press. Anticipated Publication Date: May 2018

Date & Time

Friday, May 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with Panelist dinner at Biba on May 4 at 6:30 p.m.


McGeorge School of Law — Northwest Hall, Seminar Rooms 4/5


Justice Antonin Scalia authored numerous opinions during his thirty years as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia was well known for his vigorous advocacy in favor of an “originalist” or “new textualist” approach to legal interpretation. He authored a number of stinging dissents challenging the Court’s jurisprudential methodology, and finally achieved some measure of victory in his 2008 majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which a bare majority of the Court nominally adopted an originalist approach to interpreting the Second Amendment. There will certainly be many efforts to delineate and assess Justice Scalia’s jurisprudence with regard to its legitimacy and effects on American law.

This project takes a very different tack. The contributors will discuss the rhetorical strategies in Justice Scalia’s opinions rather than the logic of his legal arguments. Justice Scalia has been criticized for his harsh and biting style that often is directed at people, including his colleagues. Others have lauded him for his uncompromising principles, erudite references and clever bon mots. For this project we use the term “rhetoric” in its full classical sense, not simply as a reference to style or ornamentation. As defined by Aristotle, rhetoric is the capacity to see the available arguments in any given situation. The guiding theme of this book is that Justice Scalia enacts his vision of the Rule of Law through his rhetorical framing. The medium is the message, and the form is the substance.

Participants in the Scalia Workshop on May 5, 2017Contributors to the volume reflect broad and diverse perspectives: from rhetoric to philosophy, linguistics to critical race theory, and constitutional theory to politics. The confirmed participants at this time are:

  • Jill Anderson, Professor of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law
  • Linda Berger, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Research; Family Foundation Professor of Law, William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV
  • Brian Bix, Frederick W. Thomas Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Minnesota Law School
  • Peter Brooks, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholar, Princeton University
  • Devon Carbado, Harry Pregerson Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
  • Mary Anne Case, Arnold I. Shure Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School
  • Edward Finegan, Professor of Linguistics and Law Emeritus, University of Southern California
  • Gene Garver, Regents Professor Emeritus, College of St. Benedict/University of St. John's
  • John Lucaites, Provost Professor of Rhetoric; Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities and Undergraduate Education, Indiana University [Introduction or Afterword]
  • Steven J. Mailloux, President's Professor of Rhetoric, Loyola Marymount University
  • Francis J. Mootz III, Dean and Professor of Law, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific
  • Victoria Nourse, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Clarke Rountree, Professor and Chair of Communication Arts, University of Alabama
  • Darien Shanske, Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law
  • Brian Slocum, Professor of Law, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific
  • Scott Soames, Director of the School of Philosophy, University of Southern California
  • Lawrence Solan, Don Forchelli Professor of Law; Director of Graduate Education, Brooklyn Law School
  • Colin Starger, Associate Professor, University of Baltimore School of Law
  • George H. Taylor, Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh

Each chapter in the volume will be concise (5,000 words) and readable (minimal footnotes). Each will provide a deep reconstruction of Justice Scalia’s rhetoric as the construction of his approach to the rule of law. We expect to deliver the text of the book for copyediting and publication in May 2017, with an anticipated publication date of May, 2018.


Panelist dinner at Biba on Thursday, May 4 — 6:30 p.m.

Breakfast and Welcome on Friday, May 5 — 8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Panel One: Law — 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

  • Brian Bix
  • Mary Ann Case
  • Jay Mootz
  • Victoria Nourse

15-minute break

Panel Two: Linguistics — 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

  • Jill Anderson
  • Brian Slocum
  • Larry Solan

Lunch at the Pub — 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Rhetoric — 1:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

  • Steve Mailloux
  • Clark Rountree
  • Darien Shanske
  • Colin Starger

15-minute break

Philosophy — 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

  • Gene Garver
  • Scott Soames
  • George Taylor

Wrap Up — 4:45 p.m. to 5 p.m.