Yesterday, I congratulated an editor at the Dallas Morning News for expertly dodging a question about how an “acontextual quotation” (Bryan Garner’s term) in the paper severely twisted something that Justice Antonin Scalia said at a talk given at SMU. Scalia was talking about the Constitution. The quote as printed in the paper:
“It’s not a living document. It’s dead, dead, dead.”
The full quote according to Garner:
“I used to say that the Constitution is not a living document. It’s dead, dead, dead. But I’ve gotten better. I no longer say that. The truth is that the Constitution is not one that morphs. It’s an enduring Constitution, not a changing Constitution. That is what I’ve meant when I’ve said that the Constitution is dead.”
Today, the DMN editor, Chris Siron, responded again. This time, he appears to cast aspersions on Garner:
I am continuing to review the article you asked me about Thursday afternoon.
I have spoken to Professor Garner, and he and I have exchanged several e-mails while I study this situation.
Our reporter was not allowed to record the Jan. 28 event. Professor Garner has indicated he does not have a transcript or, as I understand it, a recording.
Also, I have been unable to verify a point Professor Garner raised in the letter you quoted. Although he says The Dallas Morning News published a front-page article about an appearance by Justice Ginsburg at Southern Methodist University, I have not found documentation for such an article in our archives.
That additional point is unrelated to the question you submitted to me, but it confirms I must consider everything carefully.
I have determined that the Jan. 29 article included a typographical mistake. We printed the title of the book Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts as Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Text. I submitted a clarification last week for my supervisors’ approval.
Siron appears to be correct. I, too, could not find a front-page story about Ginsburg’s appearance at SMU (in 2011, I presume). Siron is saying that since Garner got that detail wrong, he might very well have misremembered Scalia’s quote.
Well, this should be easy enough. Seventeen hundred people attended that Garner-Scalia talk at SMU on January 28. Surely one of you can tell us what you recall of Scalia’s quote. Help us out in the comments.