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The Justice Scalia Poetry Game

By Harriet Staff

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker has proposed The Scalia Game: inspired by Justice Antonin Scalia’s “repeated, urgent italicizations” in his argument against the case of Edith Windsor and his arguments against same-sex marriage. Davidson proposes that his italicized rant might be better suited as a poem. She writes:

In a post earlier today, I suggested that Justice Antonin Scalia’s repeated, urgent italicizations in his Windsor dissent might be put together as a poem. Here is one such assembly:

Hungry, doing—
Cured only at all
Never should be affirmed
And the court below. Seek
To undo it:
Of standing, an opposing party
Contradiction. But
Completely opposite,
Standing adverseness.
Deny; grant always
Those who apply
The rule to particular cases designed
Only apply—
Was they?
Which opposite-sex, any
Malice the “purpose”?
Humiliat[e] this institution
The purpose, theoretically
This, ourselves
Single State

And now a proposal for a game. The poem above uses all of Scalia’s italicized words strung together in order, with line breaks and punctuation. But could there have been a more stirring rendition if they were scrambled? And are there Scalia dissents out there with even greater poetic possibilities? Let me know in comments, below.

The rules: you don’t get to use the words in footnotes, or any of the Latin or case names. Also out are italics Scalia uses to imagine how some future judge might edit a decision he doesn’t like—a slight pity in the case of Windsor, as it excludes such phrases as “enjoying constitutionally protected sexual relationships.”

A few great examples in the comments section so far. Let’s get busy!

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Posted in Poetry News on Friday, June 28th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.