'Top Line' Book Corner: 'American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia'

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Supreme Courts are remembered by their chief justices -- the Warren Court, the Rehnquist Court, etc. -- but generations from now, historians may look back and reference the Scalia Court for a quick encapsulation of the current era of American jurisprudence.

Joan Biskupic, who covers the Supreme Court for USA Today, is the author of a new biography of the nation’s first Italian-American justice: “American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.”

With more than two decades on the court, and still going strong at 73, Scalia has gone from dissenting voice to a key part of an increasingly influential conservative bloc on the high court -- with the potential to grow even stronger in the years to come, Biskupic told us on ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today.

“Sarah Palin will come and go; he’s appointed for life,” Biskupic told us.

Early on, she said, “most of his message came in dissents beyond the marble walls. Now suddenly he’s got votes. He’s the one who wrote the majority opinion giving us for the first time, a Second Amendment individual right to hand guns, striking down the Washington, DC handgun law. So he’s gathering steam over these two decades and he’s only 73, which in justice years is really very young -- very young, very young. So yes, I imagine he’s going to be much more of a player on the law each year that we come along, because the next justices who are likely to retire are likely to be the liberals, not the conservatives.”

As a fierce critic of the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Scalia is probably having an “I told you so” moment watching Congress wrestle with yet another hot-button abortion issue this week, Biskupic said.

And few justices in the nation’s history have had the same flair for biting humor -- and usually with a purpose.

“There’ve been a couple you know, very un-PC remarks he’s made from the bench,” she said. “I said to him in our many interviews, you know, what were you thinking when you said that? He said Wwell I didn’t have to say it -- but it did get attention.’ So he knows what he’s doing.”

Watch the full interview with Joan Biskupic HERE .

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