News and Analysis


Antonin Scalia

Mid-campus motorcades and internships on the Hill have paid off for GW students again, as the University was named the most politically active campus in the nation by the Princeton Review for the third year in a row.

This year Georgetown and American Universities fell off the top 20 list after being ranked No. 9 and 10, respectively, last year. Vassar College and the United States Military Academy rounded out the top three this year.

President Barack Obama Stephen Colbert was interviewed during one of the final tapings of the Colbert Report, held in Lisner Auditorium last year. The Princeton Review named GW the most politically active campus for the third straight year on Monday. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

President Barack Obama Stephen Colbert was interviewed during one of the final tapings of the Colbert Report, held in Lisner Auditorium last year. The Princeton Review named GW the most politically active campus for the third straight year on Monday. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This year GW hosted a number of political figures on campus, including Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia and a taping of the Colbert Report featuring President Barack Obama, which could have helped secure the top spot for most politically active campus.

The University also came in second for “College City Gets High Marks,” beat out for the top spot by Tulane University in New Orleans. No other universities in D.C. landed on this list.

Based on students’ ratings of dorm comfort, GW inched up one spot to No. 11 on a list of best dorms. In an overall review of the University, the Princeton Review reported that some students called the “dorms like palaces,” even after social media criticized housing conditions a couple of years ago.

GW also slid in the rankings this year on a list of most popular study abroad programs from No. 12 to No. 17, beating out Georgetown University by one spot. All lists were based on rankings from student surveys.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Sophie Kaplan.

Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to Lisner Auditorium on Thursday to talk about their long friendship and differing opinions on court decisions.

Nina Totenberg, NPR’s legal affairs correspondent, moderated the conversation sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates to a sold-out audience.

Didn’t score tickets? Here are some highlights from their hour-and-a-half discussion.

1. A long-term friendship

Ginsburg and Scalia said they’ve been close friends since they served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit together over 30 years ago.

“She’s a nice person, what’s not to like?” Scalia said. “But her views about the law.”

Ginsburg said her favorite moment with Scalia was when they rode on an elephant together.

“Your feminist friends made fun of me for riding behind you on the elephant,” Scalia said.

“It had something to do with weight distribution,” Ginsburg said.

2. United States v. Virginia

Ginsburg and Scalia were on opposite sides when it came to a high-profile Supreme Court case on the Virginia Military Institute, which originally would not allow women to enroll.

Scalia said allowing women into the school would ruin a long-standing tradition at the military institute.

Ginsburg disagreed, saying the institute for women didn’t have facilities of the same quality.

“Faculty were more supportive of the admission of women, and why? Because it would upgrade their applicant pool,” she said.

3. Rooted in the Constitution

Scalia and Ginsburg said their differences in opinion are rooted in their interpretations of the Constitution.

Scalia said the Constitution’s meaning has remained the same throughout the years.

“There is no living Constitution unless it’s enduring,” he said.

Ginsburg, who is one of the liberal members of the Supreme Court, said the text was written by white male property owners and wasn’t representative of all Americans.

“The Founders had some grand ideas,” she said. “These grand ideas were meant to develop as society developed.”

4. It’s about that time

The justices are in their late 70s and early 80s, but they said they had no intention of leaving the Supreme Court in the near future.

Scalia said he will retire when he thinks he no longer does the job the way he used to do it.

Ginsburg, who is three years older than Scalia, said she won’t retire as long as she can work “full steam.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Nicole Dunsmore.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reminded the hundreds of people packed into Lisner Auditorium on Monday that the nation’s 227-year founding document does not hold all the answers to some of it’s biggest moral questions.

Scalia stressed that while the U.S. Constitution remains the core of its judicial process and the “source of our freedom,” it’s not suited to resolving moral dilemmas. He said that means the Supreme Court, which has the final word on constitutional cases, is not “of the greatest interest” to Americans.

Justice Antonin Scalia stressed the importance of preserving the Constitution’s original intent Monday during a speech at Lisner Auditorium. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Photographer

While “the world believes in human rights,” Scalia said that he is a lawyer, “not a philosopher king” and that he and his legal colleagues cannot answer these questions.

“Judges have no particular expertise in the question of what human rights ought to be,” Scalia said, adding that legal scholars do not even agree on what defines human rights.

Other questions, like those surrounding the privacy debate springing from the National Security Administration debacle, are more relevant to his court, he said on the anniversary of the U.S. Constitution signing.

As one of the Court’s most conservative members, he also honed in on the importance of state laws. While he believes the scope of the federal government has expanded, Scalia added that many of the most relevant laws to Americans are state laws.

The event was Scalia’s second visit to GW this year, after he spoke with NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg about his life and Supreme Court tenure.

  • Permalink
  • Comments (2)
Antonin Scalia

Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia will speak at GW Sept. 16 in honor of Constitution Day. Photo used under Creative Commons license.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will give a free lecture to students at Lisner Auditorium later this month.

Scalia will speak Monday, Sept. 16 at a lecture sponsored by the GW Law School. The event, which begins at 1 p.m., is open to all students who nab one of the free tickets.

Nominated to the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, Scalia is one of the court’s key conservatives.

Throughout his time on the Court, Scalia has spoken at GW several times, judging moot court competitions and lecturing to law students.

He most recently spoke at GW in February.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia pondered the changing role of constitutional interpretation in judicial decisions Thursday at the Jack Morton Auditorium. Michelle Rattinger | Senior Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Kelly Quinn.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia highlighted the importance of impartiality and consistency in judicial decision-making during the kickoff to a two-day GW Law School symposium at the Jack Morton Auditorium Thursday.

Considered by many to be the intellectual linchpin of the conservative block on the Supreme Court, Scalia touched upon the necessity of both historical scholarship and legal expertise in forming opinions on cases within “a government of laws, not of men.”

“Historians can bring before the court the facts,” but it is the court’s job to analyze those facts, he said. “Finding out the meaning of legal texts is a classic judicial function,” he said.

Putting down the notion that history is irrelevant, the justice argued that, “the use of history is far closer to having the cure than the disease.”

In his introductory remarks, GW Law School professor Bradford Clark noted Scalia’s impact on “the way we all think about interpretation and the law,” calling him “one of the most consequential Supreme Court justices in history.”

A well-known proponent of judicial restraint, the justice discussed the notions of textualism, focusing on the words used in laws, and originalism, emphasizing the legislator’s meaning, in interpreting the Constitution.

“The originalist approach to constitutional interpretation holds that the Constitution is no different than any other legal text,” Scalia said. “The Constitution bears a static meaning which does not change from generation to generation.”

Scalia, often criticized for his sharp tongue and dogmatic nature, had the crowd laughing with his quick-witted responses to questions from moderator and Harvard Law School professor John Manning.

Notre Dame Law School professor William Kelley defended the justice’s poor track record with other members of the court.

“The business of the court is not normally done according to personal relationships. There is no room for deal-making or vote-trading,” Kelley said.

Kelley also hailed Scalia for his consistency and eloquence, saying, “he has fundamentally transformed the terms of legal debate in this country.”

“It is his opinion that law students read closely, and it is his opinion they react to most strongly,” Kelley said.

Students in the audience were excited by the opportunity to ask the oftentimes media shy justice questions, taking full advantage of the justice’s frankness and, as law student Katelyn Ruiz said, the chance to “see inside his head.”

The symposium was coordinated by members of the GW Law Review, a student-run publication that seeks to promote legal scholarship.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Antonin Scalia, the longest serving justice on the Supreme Court after 25 years, maintains his originalist interpretation of the Constitution and religion in the debate on same-sex dormitories. Photo courtesy of the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia jumped into the gender-neutral housing debate last weekend, criticizing a professor’s efforts to challenge mandatory same-sex dormitories.

GW Law School professor John Banzhaf brought suit against Catholic University of America this summer after the religious institution banned first year co-ed dormitories. Banzhaf said the move qualified as sex discrimination under the D.C. Human Rights Act.

Scalia defended same-sex housing during a speech at Duquesne University Law School, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

“I hope this place will not yield — as some Catholic institutions have — to this politically correct insistence upon suppression of moral judgment, to this distorted view of what diversity in America means,” Scalia said, according to the Tribune-Review. “Our educational establishment these days, while so tolerant of and even insistent upon diversity in all other aspects of life seems bent on eliminating diversity of moral judgment — particularly moral judgment based on religious views.”

CUA President John Garvey said the institution’s decision to mandate same-sex housing aims to curb “binge drinking and hooking up.”

Scalia – the longest serving justice on the Supreme Court after 25 years – defended his originalist interpretation of the Constitution and religion in the public sphere.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Banzhaf responded with a statement that he was “astonished that a justice of the nation’s highest court would single out and pre-judge a legal proceeding which could set an important precedent, and could one day even come before the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“It obviously isn’t frivolous if a Supreme Court justice thinks the legal action might force Catholic U to change its policy,” Banzhaf said in the same statement.

“This takes us back to the 1950s and 1960s when dorms were segregated. But we’ve come a long way now, and we shouldn’t go back,” Banzhaf, 70, told The Hatchet in June. “They’re going back to the ‘good old days’ when boys were in one dorm and girls in the other. That was fine in ‘Leave It To Beaver,’ but it’s not appropriate now.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments (5)
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 3:58 p.m.

Frank also made “homophobe” comment at GW

Rep. Barney Frank, D, visited the Marvin Center in Feburary. Courtesy photo.

Rep. Barney Frank, D, visited the Marvin Center in February. Courtesy photo.

More than 200 newspapers and Web sites have picked up the Associated Press piece about Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank calling Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “a homophobe” — but it wasn’t the first time the openly gay congressman had harsh words for the conservative justice.

Speaking to the GW College Democrats two weeks before his interview with, Frank had this to say about the conservative justice: “Justice Antonin Scalia is a bigot and an outright homophobe.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments (4)
Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008 9:35 p.m.

Scalia to judge moot court competition

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia will judge the GW Law School’s annual Van Vleck Moot Court competition on January 22.  His appearance will mark the third time in four years that a Supreme Court justice has presided over the annual event.

In addition to Scalia, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Marsha Berzo, and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey Sutton will hear law students argue both sides of a fictional case written by other students.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito presided over previous moot court competitions in 2006 and 2007 respectively. Although last year’s event did not feature a member of the nation’s highest court, Law School Dean Frederick Lawrence hinted that he hoped to invite a Supreme Court justice in 2009.

  • Permalink
  • Comments (1)