commencement speeches

Justice Scalia Reminds Graduates (Again) That Being Hitler Is Bad

Photo: Platon/Platon

Justice Antonin Scalia spoke at his granddaughter Megan’s graduation on Thursday, applying his strict constructionist faith to clunky commencement clichés. It would take judicial activism, he argued, to make “never compromise your principles” mean what you think it means. “Never compromise your principles, unless of course your principles are Adolf Hitler’s, in which case you would be well advised to compromise them as much as you can.”

His speech was lightly recycled from one he gave at the graduation of one of his 35 other grandchildren in 2010; skewering evergreen bon mots is an evergreen pastime, especially if your worldview doesn’t alter much. In fact, the Supreme Court justice doesn’t think the world has ever required new advice — at least if you believe it is only a few thousand years old. “Humanity has been around for at least some 5,000 years or so,” Scalia told the young graduates, “and I doubt that the basic challenges as confronted are any worse now, or alas even much different, from what they ever were.” 

And as for “to thine own self be true,” he added, “Now this can be very good or very bad advice, depending on who you think you are.”

Justice Scalia Gives Advice to High School Grads