The Loop

Justice Antonin Scalia’s renowned sarcasm was on display in Casey Martin dissent

February 14, 2016

Whatever side one came down on in the case of the PGA Tour vs. Casey Martin that wound up in the Supreme Court in 2001, those with an appreciation for witty sarcasm surely would be amused with the dissent written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Saturday.


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“The art of the Scalia dissent,” as the New Yorker once referred to his artful dissents, was in full display in the Martin decision that came down in his favor, allowing him to use a golf cart in competition. Scalia’s dissent, which can be seen in its entirety here, read in part:

“If one assumes, however, that the PGA TOUR has some legal obligation to play classic, Platonic golf — and if one assumes the correctness of all the other wrong turns the Court has made to get to this point — then we Justices must confront what is indeed an awesome responsibility. It has been rendered the solemn duty of the Supreme Court of the United States, laid upon it by Congress in pursuance of the Federal Government’s power ‘[t]o regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States,’ U.S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 3, to decide What Is Golf. I am sure that the Framers of the Constitution, aware of the 1457 edict of King James II of Scotland prohibiting golf because it interfered with the practice of archery, fully expected that sooner or later the paths of golf and government, the law and the links, would once again cross, and that the judges of this august Court would some day have to wrestle with that age-old jurisprudential question, for which their years of study in the law have so well prepared them: Is someone riding around a golf course from shot to shot really a golfer? The answer, we learn, is yes. The Court ultimately concludes, and it will henceforth be the Law of the Land, that walking is not a ‘fundamental’ aspect of golf.”