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Bryan A. Garner, a lawyer and writer, and Justice Antonin Scalia are, on the surface, on odd pair of friends.Garner is pro-choice and supports same-sex marriage, while Scalia is a conservative Catholic whose comments about homosexuality have outraged gays.
“I have gotten to know Justice Scalia so well over these two books, and we’ve come so close that he’s like an uncle to me,” Garner told Business Insider.
Garner spoke with BI about Scalia’s legal philosophy – he’s a “textualist” who interprets the Constitution strictly – and the justice’s reputation as a “famous curmudgeon.”
Former Georgia Congress member Bob Barr referred to Scalia as the “high court curmudgeon” in an op-ed back in 2009. The justice seemed to embody this quality most recently when he lamented the poor grammar of flight attendants.
Scalia’s friend traced the roots of that curmudgenly attitude to the justice’s frustration with the erosion of old-fashioned etiquette.
“If you think that certain standards of behaviour are good and important … when people fall below these standards, it’s disappointing,” Garner said. “Not in an officious way, but you wish it were otherwise.”
Scalia gets annoyed when he’s in a nice restaurant and other patrons keep their hats on, as does Garner, whose wife says he gets curmudgeonly after spending time with the justice.
“The world changes. Of course the world changes, but that doesn’t mean that all change is good,” Garner told BI. “I think a lot of change is retrograde. That’s the definition of curmodgeon: someone who says harrumph about changing social conventions.”