The ‘Towering Intellect’: Antonin Scalia’s Legacy for Conservatives

sclConstitutional conservatives were dismayed to learn that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away at age 79 on Saturday, during a quail hunting trip in Texas. He had served on the Court since being appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, and was the longest serving justice. And as one of his former students observed, “He authored more concurrences than any other justice on the court, because Antonin Scalia wanted to be heard, and would let no one else’s views define his own.” (See this for a short biography of the justice.)

He was well known for his witty and biting sarcasm. Frequently in the conservative minority, he wrote many scathing dissents and aggressively challenged lawyers during oral arguments. He had a piercingly brilliant mind that frustrated his opponents. While those on the right admired this, many on the left, not surprisingly, couldn’t stand it. One writer at Slate characterized his work as a justice this way: “He presented cruel, demeaning views in thought-provoking and stirring ways.”

Originalist and Textualist

Scalia was also well known for his originalist interpretation of the Constitution, which looks to the Founding Fathers’ intent when they drafted the Constitution and to the intent of later lawmakers when they crafted Constitutional amendments. The Constitution is “not a living document,” he famously said in a speech to Southern Methodist University in 2013. “It’s dead, dead, dead.” He was bound by the text, not his own wishes. “The judge who always likes the results he reaches is a bad judge,” he said. Since he came on the court, originalist analyses appeared frequently in court opinions, even from left-leaning justices.

Read the rest of the article at The Stream

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