Music Supreme Court

Scalia/Ginsburg: The Opera

From the mind of an award-winning composer and recent law school graduate, Derrick Wang, comes a story about the odd relationship between Justices Scalia and Ginsburg– in the form of an opera. Opera seria, to be more specific.

WASHINGTON (AP) — He’s a tenor stuck in the 18th century. She’s a soprano who evolves over time.

They fight like cats and dogs at work, but somehow forge and maintain a beautiful friendship.

It’s “Scalia/Ginsburg,” the opera by award-winning composer Derrick Wang, who just graduated from the University of Maryland law school.

NPR delves into Wang’s reasoning:

“I realized this is the most dramatic thing I’ve ever read in law school … and I started to hear music — a rage aria about the Constitution,” Wang said. “And then, in the midst of this roiling rhetoric, counterpoint, as Justice Ginsburg’s words appeared to me — a beacon of lyricism with a steely strength and a fervent conviction all their own. And I said to myself, ‘This is an opera.’ “

Justice Scalia, “the tenor,” bellows,

“The justices are blind. How can they spout this? The Constitution says absolutely nothing about this!”

Justice Ginsburg, the soprano, retorts:

“How many times must I tell you, dear Mister Justice Scalia: You’d spare us such pain if you’d just entertain this idea,” Ginsburg says. “You are searching in vain for a bright-line solution to a problem that isn’t so easy to solve. But the beautiful thing about our Constitution is that, like our society, it can evolve.”

“Constitutional interpretation, in song.” Sounds more like opera buffa, to me.

  • blackdaug

    Not being an opera aficionado, is there any historic precedence for a scene where one character marches over and kicks another one in the nuts? Because, I am hoping life would imitate art in that one.

  • muselet

    I’m not thrilled by the snippets of the opera NPR played (sounds more Gilbert & Sullivan than classical opera to me), but I’m willing to hear the whole thing to find out how good it actually is.


    • dbtheonly

      Don’t give Scalia ideas about “lists”

      • muselet

        You have a point. I’d never thought of Antonin Scalia as Ko-Ko, but it makes sense.

        As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
        I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list
        Of society offenders who might well be underground,
        And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!

        If Scalia starts thinking of himself that way, Derrick Wang may want to hide:

        And that Nisi Prius nuisance, who just now is rather rife,
        The Judicial humorist — I’ve got him on the list!


        • dbtheonly

          I was thinking more of,

          The Liberal Crusader and the others of his race.

          But you’ve nailed it exactly.