Special Edition: Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and Scalia

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The Supreme Court is expected to be in the news this month ruling on some blockbuster cases dealing with the constitutionality of President Obama’s healthcare plan and Arizona’s immigration law. Two of the Justices, one a leader of the liberal bloc, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and one a leader of the conservative wing, Antonin Scalia, are likely to be active in asserting their views. Both are passionate music lovers and have been guests on Mad About Music.

On the eve of announcing these momentous decisions, we revisit their appearances on the show:

- According to Justice Ginsburg, she and Justice Scalia share the same musical tastes: “We don’t shy away from admitting that we cry at Puccini.”

- At least up to the arrival of Justices Alito, Roberts and Sotomayor, Ginsburg said that Scalia was the only Justice who could carry a tune.

- When drafting decisions, both like music on in the background: Mozart for Ginsburg; Bach for Scalia.

- Both have appeared as supers (extras) at performances of the Washington Opera.

- Both studied an instrument: piano and cello for Ginsburg; piano and French horn for Scalia.

- Musical fantasies: Ginsburg would be an opera singer; Scalia a tenor or a violinist.

- Composer they would choose to write an opera about the famous Bush v. Gore case concerning counting votes in Florida: Ginsburg chose Verdi; Scalia chose Mozart.

- Wildcard selection (non-classical choice): Ginsburg: Cole Porter’s “Tale of the Oyster”; Scalia: “Sh-Boom” by the Chords.

- Musical choices include Puccini, Strauss, Kreisler, Boyce.


Cole Porter: “Tale of the Oyster.” Samuel Ramey, baritone. Recorded live at the United States Supreme Court.

Giacomo Puccini: Tosca “Vissi d’arte.” Orchestra of La Scala. Victor de Sabata. Maria Callas, soprano. Musical Heritage Society 524973H.

Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier. Act III [excerpt]. Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus. Herbert von Karajan. Otto Edelmann, bass; Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano; Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano; Teresa Stich-Randall, soprano. EMI 7 49354 2.

Fritz Kreisler: Liebesleid. Joshua Bell, violin; Paul Coker, piano. Decca D 112473.

James Edwards, James Keyes, Claude Feaster, Carl Feaster, Floyd McRae: "Sh-Boom.” The Chords. Flashback R2 72716.

William Boyce: Symphony No. 1. Third movement. The English Concert. Trevor Pinnock. Archiv 419 631-2.