Lee Lieberman Otis, senior vice president and director of the Federalist Society’s Faculty Division, writes in the New York Post:
When Justice Antonin Scalia joined the Supreme Court in 1986, I was in his first group of law clerks. Many conversations started out with the justice asking a clerk’s views on something or other. After the clerk spoke for a while, Justice Scalia would often respond, “That can’t possibly be right. What about the Smith case?” or “What about section 203(b) of the statute?” or “What about the First Amendment?”
One key to being an effective clerk was understanding what this meant. It didn’t mean, “You’re an idiot for even suggesting such a thing.” It meant, “Argue with me. Tell me why your view is right and I’m wrong.”
One of the underappreciated facts about Justice Scalia, you see, is that he was a New Yorker. He grew up in Queens. New Yorkers are considerably more prone than most other Americans to say what’s on their mind. But they’re not trying to end a conversation, they’re trying to start one. Because of course New Yorkers love to argue.