Thus, there is in Vanderbilt Hall an exhibit on the workings of the Court with story boards that, with the coming hearings on Harriet Miers, the latest nominee to the Court, should be of immediate interest to everyone. There is also an exhibit of old and invaluable documents that suggest the development of the Court in our Constitutional evolution. One such document is an exact engraving of the Declaration of Independence dating from 1823. There is the Connecticut Courant and Weekly Intelligencer's original 1787 printing of the Constitution, and there are letters from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
The most interesting letters are to be found in the correspondence of Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin with two distinguished 18th-century Italian intellectuals about the possible development of law in America. Franklin's correspondent, the Neapolitan, Gaetano Filangieri, was a proponent of the free press, proportionality in criminal punishment, free trade and other ideas deemed daring in his time but soon to be part of American law. Jefferson's correspondent, Filippo Mazzei, a Florentine, actually came to live near him in Virginia. He has now been recognized as the originator of Jefferson's famous term, "All men are created equal."
Finally, along with the ancient documents is an exhibit focusing on New York's hometown boy, Scalia. Highlighted in this exhibit is a statement by him that illuminates the controversies over the present Supreme Court vacancy and probably those to come. "The Constitution is an enduring document but not a living one. And its meaning must not be altered to suit the whims of society." That reminds me of a testimonial delivered to Scalia recently by one of the greatest living Supreme Court lawyers, former Solicitor General Ted Olson. "His opinions have special weight because they are written in a particularly engaging, persuasive and readable style. He brings passion to logic." You can be sure Justice Scalia will bring passion to the Columbus Day Parade.
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