“Tony Scalia, here!”
That’s what I heard on the other end of the line, coming to me from across the continent.
Let me back up.
You can guess that I appreciate good writing. I appreciate it when I read Christian writers. I appreciate it when I read non-Christian writers. And I appreciate it when I read it in my profession. Especially when I read it in my profession. It can be pure drudgery to have to read some turgid legal treatise or opinion, knowing that the information I need must be in there somewhere as I slog along in hopes the misery will soon end. Yet you’d be surprised how many fantastic writers there are in the legal field, too.
One of them is United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. When he writes an opinion, every word is there because he intends it to be there. Nothing slips by and lands on the page by accident. There is nothing sloppy about his word-craft. The best opinions, from a purely literary point of view, are his dissents. Those are the ones I will seek out and read sometimes even if they are on a subject that has zero chance of landing in my courtroom.
After I’d been on the bench a couple of years, I was reading one of those dissents and came across a particularly well-written portion and thought, “I wonder if I can call the Supreme Court and let Justice Scalia know how much I appreciate that? No harm in trying.”
So I did. Call the U.S. Supreme Court, that is. The main number went to a switchboard operator who asked how she could direct my call.
“Justice Scalia’s chambers, please.” I half expected my call to be dropped right there. After all, anyone with legitimate business with a member of the Supreme Court probably already has the direct line to chambers, right?
Oh. OK, then. So far, so good.
“Justice Scalia’s chambers,” another woman said quite pleasantly. “May I help you?”
I gave her my name and explained I was a trial judge from California and that I wondered if Justice Scalia might be available. Next thing I knew, a booming voice came down the line.
“Tony Scalia, here!”
The details might bore you, but suffice to say that this was a great phone call!
Calling the Top
There’s an even better call we can make, though. It’s the one that comes through faith by God’s grace. For the Bible says that the “Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'” (Romans 10:12-13.)
Everyone who calls. Everyone. Every. single. one.
And when we see him face to face, the words will be “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21.) Much better – and more impressive by far – than even a Supreme Court justice hailing a greeting down the phone line.