Just four months after joining the Supreme Court, Samuel Alito Jr. on Monday joined the club of jurists who have been targets of Justice Antonin Scalia's wrath.
Alito wrote Zedner v. United States for a unanimous Court on Monday, siding with a criminal defendant in a dispute over interpretation of the Speedy Trial Act. But Scalia, while joining the decision, wrote a concurrence criticizing Alito for citing the legislative history of the statute, which Scalia believes is irrelevant.
"Because the use of legislative history is illegitimate and ill advised in the interpretation of any statute -- and especially a statute that is clear on its face -- I do not join this portion of the Court's opinion," Scalia wrote.
The side spat is a small but significant sign of Alito's independence from Scalia, whom many presumed would be a consistent conservative ally and friend.
In the drafting process, Alito could easily have mollified Scalia by deleting the paragraph that invoked legislative history.