No political judgment, this is simply an assessment of what is perhaps Justice Scalia's greatest legacy: his mastery of the soundbite. In a profession not necessarily known for its brevity or humor (other than jokes making fun of lawyers or stabbing at the legal profession), Justice Scalia was in a league of his own. He knew how to deliver a powerful, accessible quote and in doing so, he spread his viewpoint far, wide and dare I say it, virally. A well-planned social media marketing campaign should be so impactful as a well-penned line from Scalia.
Insight: Scalia wrote in a speaking-style. According to his clerks, during the drafting process, he used to read his written opinions out-loud. Word of mouth only goes so far when the words get tangled on a page.
Designed for impact and omni-channel posting, here are a few Antonin Scalia quotes to get you thinking about how you're crafting your own message and whether you're really making your ideas worth spreading:
- A search is a search, even if it happens to disclose nothing but the bottom of a turntable.
- Why in the world would you have it interpreted by nine lawyers?
- A law can be both economic folly and constitutional.
- A journalistic purpose could be someone with a Xerox machine in a basement.
- What is a moderate interpretation of the text? Halfway between what it really means and what you'd like it to mean?
- Campaign promises are - by long democratic tradition - the least binding form of human commitment.
- Interior decorating is a rock-hard science compared to psychology practiced by amateurs.
- People look at rights as if they were muscles--the more you exercise them, the better they get.
- You could have 50 different states having 50 different regulations... until they were all litigated out.
So, what makes a memorable media quote? Whether you're delivering closing arguments or tweeting your viewpoint, here are some of the elements to consider if you're looking to be quotable, like Scalia:
- Make your quote brief, clear and ensure your pop culture references are relevant.
- First-hand account please! Save the friend-of-a-friend insight for the friend.
- You may have a lot to say, but if you want to be heard, stick to one key idea.
- Provide a unique insight, analysis or context based on your subject-matter expertise.
- As Scalia knew, a quote is not wildly quotable without color, passion or emotion.
- Add humor, it makes a tough decision or awkward outcome more accessible.