On February 13, 2016, the United States was shocked to learn that the famous jurist and Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia had passed away at the age of 79.
Many on the Right lamented the passing of a heavyweight champion of freedom, the rule of law, and truth. On the Left, many cheered the death of the justice in truly despicable ways.
That was one year ago today, and since then Scalia’s seat has remained vacant. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the seat, but due to persistence, the Senate did not hold hearings on his nomination due to the fact that it was an election year. Surprisingly, they stuck to it.
Now, Neil Gorsuch of the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has been nominated by President Trump for the vacant seat. Gorsuch, from my understanding, is a judge who will be a justice who adheres to the Constitution in his rulings, and will seek to carry out true justice in his voting and opinions.
But since today is the one-year mark of Scalia’s passing, let us remember him and his incredible skills with wit and pen. Here is just a sampling of Justice Scalia’s greatest written words.
- “Frequently an issue of this sort will come before the Court clad, so to speak, in sheep’s clothing: the potential of the asserted principle to effect important change in the equilibrium of power is not immediately evident, and must be discerned by a careful and perceptive analysis. But this wolf comes as a wolf.” –Morrison v. Olsen, 487 U.S. 654, 699 (1988) (dissenting).
- The Constitution contains no right to abortion. It is not to be found in the longstanding traditions of our society, nor can it be logically deduced from the text of the Constitution – not, that is, without volunteering a judicial answer to the nonjusticiable question of when human life begins. Leaving this matter to the political process is not only legally correct, it is pragmatically so. That alone – and not lawyerly dissection of federal judicial precedents – can produce compromises satisfying a sufficient mass of the electorate that this deeply felt issue will cease distorting the remainder of our democratic process. The Court should end its disruptive intrusion into this field as soon as possible. –Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, (1990, concurring), 497 U.S. 502 ; decided June 25,1990)
- As to the Court’s invocation of the Lemon test: Like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again, frightening the little children and school attorneys of Center Moriches Union Free School District. –Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, 508 U.S. 384, 398-99 (1993) (concurring)
- Words do have a limited range of meaning, and no interpretation that goes beyond that range is permissible. -Speech at Princeton University (1995)
- Campaign promises are, by long democratic tradition, the least binding form of human commitment. –Republican Party v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002)
- “This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare. Perhaps the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will attain the enduring status of the Social Security Act or the Taft-Hartley Act; perhaps not. But this Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years.” –King vs Burwell, (2015)
- “The world does not expect logic and precision in poetry or inspirational popphilosophy; it demands them in the law. The stuff contained in today’s opinion has to diminish this Court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis.” Obergefell vs. Hodges, (2015)
- “I find it a sufficient embarrassment that our Establishment Clause jurisprudence regarding holiday displays has come to require scrutiny more commonly associated with interior decorators than with the judiciary.” (1992) Lee v. Weisman.
Justice Scalia was truly one of the United States’ most memorable jurists. His name will live on with John Marshall, Joseph Story, and Earl Warren as one of the great thinkers of his era. Agree or disagree with Scalia’s opinions, but one cannot deny that his impact on the Supreme Court was truly one that will last for centuries.