Justice Scalia and the Interpretation of Criminal Statutes

Although he described himself as “socially a law and order conservative,” on the bench Justice Antonin Scalia sometimes came down on the side of the accused. For example, he spoke for the Court in Crawford when it reinvigorated the Confrontation Clause. In addition, Scalia’s approach to statutory interpretation led him to urge revival of the rule of lenity, narrowing of liability for mail and wire fraud, and rejection of deference to administrative interpretation of criminal statutes. Paul Mogin says Scalia’s insights on these subjects will be cited by criminal defense attorneys for years to come.