Here’s another thought: the venom of Justice Scalia’s rhetoric matches the rhetoric in politics today. And it will match all the efforts to find his successor. Justice Scalia would be proud of the vituperative speech flying about. He was a master at that, and I found his written barbs to be both disrespectful and demeaning of someone holding his position. I don’t get why we can’t just disagree — without being so so nasty.

I have written about Justice Scalia’s comments on minority students (although Justice Roberts’ comments were actually worse if that is possible). Here they are:

Justice Scalia had more than bad rhetoric (although he certainly had that). This piece seems to ignore the counter-literature about under matched students compared to similarly situated students are “lesser colleges.” There is a lift effect at elite colleges. Look at the Posse data for starters. Compare that to data on grad rates at HBCUs. In fact the elite colleges cream skim — and get better results and part of that is $$$ — at least at private institutions. To be sure, there is a correlation between low income and higher ed success. See the book, Rewarding Strivers. And, while I don’t see under matching as such a critical issue, the data support that students accepted do succeed. Bottom line: this piece is cheery picking data, under the guise of saying others ignore it. Not fair. Not accurate either.

I have a hard time though “celebrating” his death and the fact that his oft-demeaning will not be heard. Instead, I think he needs to rest in peace; if I am vituperative and celebratory, I am no better than he was in terms of dis-respecting the views of others. He was not a murderer. He was not a criminal. He had a judicial philopsophy and life philosphy with which I disagree and disagreed. Severely disagreed. But, if I was nasty to everyone with whom I disagreed, my life would be filled with misery. Fight badness not with badness back. Fight it with rightness and decency and humanity and a warmth that messages every minute how awful it is to disrespect others. Stated differently: don’t act or write like Justice Scalia (or celebrate his death); instead, show the power — the enormous power — of acting decently to all.

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Author, Educator & Commentator; Former President, Southern Vermont College; Former Senior Policy Advisor, US Dept. of Education; Former Law Professor

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