Scalia: A Court of One
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Some will remember Scalia as a venerated icon whose originalist interpretation of the Constitution furthered conservative ideals. Others will remember Scalia as a despised rabble-rouser whose adherence to textualism left him on the wrong side of history. Tribe, Carl M. To say that Scalia will be missed is an understatement.
With his brilliance and wit, he single-handedly transformed the terms of debate about the Constitution and the rule of law. Arguing a case before the bench he so often dominated was among life's great pleasures. It is a singular irony that, while deriding the very idea of a living Constitution, he did so much to give it life. Scalia had an outsized impact on the Supreme Court, and on the way we think about and interpret the Constitution. Just ask the generation of law students who read him like the Harry Potter of doctrine.
Scalia shaped many, many minds and hearts—perhaps more so than he shaped the doctrine itself. His treatment of women, minorities, workers and other groups made him reviled on the left. But conservatives have lost their lion and hero. Eskridge Jr. Often in noisy dissent or grumpy concurrence, but increasingly as the author of majority opinions, Scalia reminded, admonished and scolded his colleagues and the entire legal community that modern law is all about public text—the text of statutes, of agency regulations and the text of the Constitution itself.
And the job of judges is to interpret the text according to its ordinary meaning, read in the context of the whole act as well as precedent and tradition. With slight exaggeration, his motto might have been this: The text, the whole text and nothing but the text, so help me God! He demanded that legal interpretation be neutral, objective and predictable—though not entirely free of norms, for statutory purpose and constitutional principles are pervasively relevant.
His was and remains an important voice, because judges facing hard cases are constantly tempted to read their own preferred results into legal texts whose ordinary meaning and the overall course of law often run in the other direction. That Scalia himself fell prey to this temptation from time to time reveals the justice to have been human, even as his advice remains classic.
Antonin Scalia - Wikipedia
Scalia was one of the most influential justices of the 20th century and changed the terms of constitutional debate. He is the justice who has had the most important impact over the years on how we think and talk about law. Whether you believe that Scalia upheld or betrayed his constitutional philosophy in particular cases, he deserves great respect as the justice whose philosophy compelled other justices to challenge him on his own terms. In this sense, he transformed the court, as well as the national conversation about the Constitution, and influence will continue for generations. Scalia was the most influential justice of the past 30 years.
His mode of influence was precisely the opposite, though, than that of the most influential justice just before him, William Brennan. Brennan was the consummate inside dealmaker, deftly able to patch together compromises and willing to trim his own views to put together winning coalitions. He does not, in short, write like a happy man. At the Supreme Court, justices meet after the case is briefed and argued, and they vote on the result. The task of writing the opinion is assigned by the Chief Justice or, if the Chief Justice is in the minority or not participating, by the senior justice in the majority.
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After the assignment, the justices generally communicate about a case by sending notes and draft opinions to one other's chambers. Brennan, Jr. The latter he described as " shrilly liberal". Scalia was a textualist in statutory interpretation , believing that the ordinary meaning of a statute should govern. Board of Education , which held that segregated schools were unconstitutional and which relied on the Fourteenth Amendment for the result.
He noted research by Michael McConell that "persuasively establishes that this was the original understanding of the post Civil War Amendments. The same can be said of monarchy and totalitarianism. But once a nation has decided that democracy Originalism unquestionably is. Non-originalism, by contrast, imposes on society statutory prescriptions that were never democratically adopted. When applied to the Constitution, nonoriginalism limits the democratic process itself, prohibiting In interpreting statutes, Scalia did not look to legislative history.
In the case of Zedner v.
United States , he joined the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito —all except one paragraph of the opinion, in which Alito cited legislative history. In a concurring opinion in that case, Scalia noted, "The use of legislative history is illegitimate and ill advised in the interpretation of any statute".
Maggs suggested,. With Justice Scalia breathing down the necks of anyone who peeks into the Congressional Record or Senate reports, the other members of the Court may have concluded that the benefit of citing legislative history does not outweigh its costs. It is likely for this reason that the percentage of cases citing it has decreased dramatically. No one likes an unnecessary fight, especially not one with as formidable an opponent as Justice Scalia.
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Scalia described himself as an originalist , meaning that he interpreted the United States Constitution as it would have been understood when it was adopted. According to Scalia in , "It's what did the words mean to the people who ratified the Bill of Rights or who ratified the Constitution". Bush appointees Roberts and Alito had had time to make an impact, Rossum wrote that Scalia had failed to win converts among his conservative colleagues for his use of originalism ,  whereas Roberts and Alito, as younger men with an originalist approach, greatly admired Scalia battling for what he believed in.
In a public conversation, Justice Stephen Breyer questioned Scalia, indicating that those who ratified the Fourteenth Amendment did not intend to end school segregation. Scalia called this argument " waving the bloody shirt of Brown " and indicated that he would have joined first Justice Harlan's solitary dissent in Plessy v.
Ferguson , the case that Brown overruled. Scalia's originalist approach came under attack from critics, who viewed it as "a cover for what they see as Scalia's real intention: to turn back some pivotal court decisions of the s and 70s" reached by the Warren and Burger Courts. Federal Election Commission. Scalia, in his concurrence in that case, traced his understanding of the rights of groups of individuals at the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights. His argument was based on the lack of an exception for groups such as corporations in the free speech guarantee in the Bill of Rights and on several examples of corporate political speech from the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights.
In , after nearly a quarter century on the Court, Scalia characterized his victories as "damn few". Goldberg described Scalia as "the intellectual anchor of the court's conservative majority". Students now put ' Federalist Society ' on their resumes". Some of it constructive, some of it unfortunate".
Scalia: A Court of One
Newdow , a claim brought by atheist Michael Newdow alleging that recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance including the words "under God" in school classrooms violated the rights of his daughter, who he said was also an atheist. Shortly after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in Newdow's favor but before the case came before the Supreme Court, Scalia spoke at a Knights of Columbus event in Fredericksburg, Virginia , stating that the Ninth Circuit decision was an example of how the courts were trying to excise God from public life.
The school district requested that the Supreme Court review the case, and Newdow asked that Scalia recuse himself because of this prior statement, which he did without comment. Scalia declined to recuse himself from Cheney v. United States District Court for the District of Columbia , a case concerning whether Vice President Dick Cheney could keep secret the membership of an advisory task force on energy policy. Scalia was asked to recuse himself because he had gone on a hunting trip with various persons including Cheney, during which he traveled one way on Air Force Two.
Scalia issued a lengthy in-chambers opinion refusing to recuse himself, stating that though Cheney was a longtime friend, he was being sued merely in his official capacity and that were justices to step aside in the cases of officials who are parties because of official capacity, the Supreme Court would cease to function.
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Scalia indicated that it was far from unusual for justices to socialize with other government officials, recalling that the late Chief Justice Fred M. Scalia stated that he was never alone with Cheney during the trip, the two had not discussed the case, and the justice had saved no money because he had bought round-trip tickets, the cheapest available.
There was also some suggestion that he ought to have recused himself in Bush v Gore, since one of his sons worked at the same law firm as Ted Olson , while another son worked for a firm representing Bush in Florida. Scalia was a devout Roman Catholic , and his son Paul entered the priesthood. Catherine of Siena in Great Falls, Virginia.
Yeah, he's a real person. Hey, c'mon, that's standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that". When asked whether he had seen recent evidence of the Devil, Scalia replied: "You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He's making pigs run off cliffs, he's possessing people and whatnot What he's doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God.
He's much more successful that way". In , upon leaving church, Scalia was asked by a reporter whether being a traditionalist Catholic had caused problems for him, and he responded by asking, "You know what I say to those people? The gesture, which got captured by a photographer, was initially reported by the Boston Herald as obscene.
Scalia responded to the reports with a letter to the editor, accusing the news staff of watching too many episodes of The Sopranos and stating that the gesture was a strong brush-off. Roger Axtell, an expert on body language, described the gesture as possibly meaning "I've had enough, go away" and noted, "It's a fairly strong gesture". According to John Boehner , as chairman of the House Republican Conference , he sought to persuade Scalia to run for election as vice president with Bob Dole in As related by Boehner, Scalia listened to the proposal and dictated the same reply Justice Charles Evans Hughes had once given to a similar query: "The possibility is too remote to comment upon, given my position".
Dole did put Scalia on his list of potential running mates but eventually settled on Jack Kemp.
Pius X church in Yarmouth, Massachusetts. Maureen was an undergraduate student at Radcliffe College when they met; she subsequently obtained a degree in English from the school. The couple raised nine children, five boys and four girls.