In a year where many influential people are leaving the world, one of the nine most influential in the United States was found deceased in his ranch home in Cibolo, Texas.
Antonin Scalia was without question a role model for people, particularly Italian-Americans. He was the first Italian-American to be selected to the Supreme Court as an Associate Justice in 1986 after William Rehnquist vacated the position to become Chief Justice.
Because he was in politics, Scalia’s death will not only be mourned, but cheered depending on what circle a person affiliates them to. Scalia was a conservative justice who advocated originalism with the Constitution and textualism with state law. He was a man who wanted to limit the government and let freedom be free.
Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey and was the son of an Italian immigrant. A devoted student, he was one of the brightest academics throughout his educational life and was a nerd to put it bluntly. His accolades include valedictorian, summa cum laude from Georgetown University and magna cum laude from Harvard Law, and was the Noles Editor for the Harvard Law Review.
He was almost predestined to become a Supreme Court Justice with a resume like that.
His time on the court has been well documented. No justice asked more questions during oral arguments. No justice was more humorous than Scalia as he elicited laughter more often than any of his colleagues. He was a strong in his opinions and strong in his positions. His dissents were filled with anger and concern for the law and country.
Scalia felt there was no constitutional right to abortion. He felt laws should be passed to allow it, not have the courts used to declare it legal. He was for Line Item Veto. He would recuse himself if he felt he was too connected to the issue. He felt strongly that the outline of powers was made clear in the Constitution and he was a major advocate for states’ rights.
Regardless of political feelings (many of his opinions even I disagree with vigorously) this is a sad day in legal history as one of the greatest legal minds of the United States has been laid to rest.
Scalia was living proof that differing politics can still have friendships as he was close friends with fellow justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, an outright leftist. The differences did not keep their families from having dinner together every New Year’s Eve or keep the two friends from enjoying a night out at the opera. That’s how politics and this country should work. Respecting each other no matter how we feel about the others’ views. Scalia was great because he stuck to his guns and didn’t make it personal.
What was personal to Scalia was his wife of 55 years and the nine children they raised together.
As the day ends, let’s acknowledge that a great man has died and give him the respect he deserves and leave the vitriol for his decisions, his opinions, and his views at the door for one day.
R.I.P. Justice Scalia.