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  • Writer's pictureJoe Colaizzo

To the Right, to the Right, to the Left, to the Left

I know, I know. It’s been a while since we took a break together. Nothing was resonating with me. Or maybe I was too tied up trying to perfect my Largemouth Bass fishing skills. No excuses. But it is good to be back.

I guess it took the end of summer to bring about something pretty impactful to get my fingers pounding away on my Mac. Or should I say the passing of a pretty (or should I say very) impactful woman?

Whether you agreed or not with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you have to say she is leaving quite a legacy on our country. She championed equal rights and her voice demanded respect and attention, leading to many improvements for our country and its people.

But something else about the Notorious RBG is capturing my attention. Her incredibly close friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

How could this be? Conservatives and Liberals hate each other (or at least that is what we are led to believe lately). But the lessons learned by studying the relationship between Ginsburg and Scalia is something that I think we should all spend a little more time on.

They took opposing sides on most legal arguments, challenging each other to improve their positions as a result of their fierce criticisms. And I believe they both realized that. They were making each other better. Through vigorous debate. Whether they won or lost, they got better. Thanks to each other. Their disagreements were fierce but always professional.

But it was their work. They had a job to do and they both did it extremely well. Always with respect and admiration. So much so that they would also often tease each other about their working relationship. Ginsburg once said that while she disagreed with a Scalia thesis, she remarked that "he said it in an absolutely captivating way."

"What's not to like?" Scalia said of Ginsburg at a joint appearance. "Except for her views on the law." Or, “We agree on a whole lot of stuff, Ruth is really bad only on the knee-jerk stuff.” Sounds like good-natured ribbing that the best of friends and colleagues do. If you watch the videos of these interviews, you feel the love between two of the most important legal minds in our land.

Giving a memorable eulogy at Justice Scalia’s funeral, Justice Ginsburg said of her friend. “Once asked how we could be friends, given our disagreement on lots of things, Justice Scalia answered: I attack ideas. I don't attack people.”  Another lesson for us all.

But then there was the other stuff. They were both more than Supreme Court Justices, they were both human beings. And like all of us, they both liked many of the same things? They bonded over their love for good wine and meals with friends, travel, and stories about their grandchildren but their love for opera took their bond to other levels. So much so that an opera Scalia/Ginsburg was written just for them….about them.

Ginsburg highlighted the opera in the statement she released to honor Scalia after his passing: “Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: "We are different, we are one," different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation.”

Yes, I think we could all benefit by studying Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia a little more. Two Supreme Court Justices on opposite sides never wavering from what they believed in, but who also respected each other, their country, and its people they were serving. Fiercest of adversaries and best of friends.

I like to believe Justice Scalia welcomed Justice Ginsburg last week with a good bottle of wine and tickets to a heavenly opera.

And in case you are all wondering about the title of this, well most of you know by now that music influences me greatly and marks many important points in my life. You may also know that if you shuffle to the right, to the right, to the right, to the right and then to the left, to the left, to the left, to the left, you wind up doing a very fun dance. A dance that you may have actually done at a wedding or other function.

It’s called the Cupid Shuffle.


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