Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s rhetoric this term was like a Fourth of July fireworks display — the loudest, showiest rocket explosions came right at the end. On Monday, Scalia offered a bitter dissent as the court upheld an Arizona voter referendum that put an independent commission, not the Legislature, in charge of redistricting. And in a case upholding Oklahoma’s ability to use a certain drug to execute prisoners, Scalia did something that justices on the winning side almost never do: Beyond offering a withering rebuttal of Stephen Breyer’s losing opinion, he ad-libbed a complaint about the dissenters from the bench. Collegiality on the high court? Meh.
Scalia's opinions are fun to read. The website Slate created a "Scalia 'Sick Burn' Generator" last week. There's been a surge in Google searches on "jiggery-pokery," Scalia's brush-off of Thursday's decision upholding Obamacare. But that case, along with Friday's marriage equality ruling, make it obvious why the spiritual leader of the court's conservative wing feels alienated. On the highest-profile issues, even a court dominated by Republican nominees is pulling away from him, amid deeper shifts in social values and the political landscape.