The New York Times

Justice Scalia's Fading Legacy

USING LEGISLATIVE HISTORY TO INTERPRET LAWS ONCE RISKED TIPTOEING OVER THE HOT COALS OF HIS SCORN. NO LONGER. NOW JUSTICES USE IT WITHOUT APOLOGY.

It was more than three years after her retirement when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor publicly acknowledged her regret over seeing pieces of her legacy erased by a rightward-turning Supreme Court. “What would you feel?” she asked her biographer, Joan Biskupic, in a September 2009 interview. “I’d be a little bit disappointed. If you think you’ve been helpful and then it’s dismantled, you think, ‘Oh, dear.’ ”

The legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia, two years after his death, is being erased as well. (He isn’t here to see it, of course, and he would no doubt have expressed his reaction differently.) When faced with interpreting an act of Congress, his colleagues evidently now feel free to invoke legislative history — committee reports, floor debates and the like — without tiptoeing over the hot coals of his scorn.

Legislative history

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