Maryland v. King: When Being Smart and Witty Isn’t Enough

Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion in Maryland v. King, the arrestee-DNA case, has been praised as “one of the best Fourth Amendments dissents, ever” and his “smartest, wittiest ruling of all time” (Rosen 2013). But one man’s wit is another’s vitriol, and according to another law professor, the opinion is “dripping with contempt” (Feldman 2013). Stylistically, this opinion is more evidence that the art of writing with courtesy as well as conviction has been lost. Substantively, what makes this dissent “one of the best”–other than one’s feelings about which result is correct? It cannot be that the opinion sets forth some enduring principle for understanding and applying the Fourth Amendment…. [read more]