April Youpee-Roll has published “Just making it up — On Justice Scalia, Indian law and the Supreme Court’s future” in the Missoula Independent. Great stuff.
Justice Scalia, who died last weekend, was kind, funny and met the audience’s questions with patience and enthusiasm. (Most of them were about raising his nine children, but a couple touched on his trademark constitutional originalism.) At the end, the organizers of the event sold copies of his book and Justice Scalia graciously signed them. I bought one as a gift for my mother and took a moment to gather myself while I waited in line, wondering what exactly one says to a Supreme Court justice.
As I handed over my book, I decided to go with, “I just wanted to thank you. When I was 10, I came to watch oral arguments in my family’s case, and you joined the majority in our favor.”
Justice Scalia looked up at me and smiled, “What was the case?”
“Babbitt v. Youpee. It was in 1997.”
He paused and I prepared to be ushered along in line. “That was a takings case, right?”
I nodded, more than a little surprised at his memory.
He signed my book, and as he handed it back to me, he said something I’ll never forget: “You know, when it comes to Indian law, most of the time we’re just making it up.”