To say Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s intellectual power left an indelible mark the nation’s highest court doesn’t quite capture his reach.
Just note the words used to describe his 29 year career shortly after news of his death on Saturday: “remarkable legacy, colossal consequence, an extraordinary jurist…”
He was an unapologetic conservative, famed for his “biting dissents,” as one long-time court watcher put it.
Scalia was a “textualist,” interpreting the exact words of the U.S. Constitution, not its inferred intent.
Along with his many notable court decisions, Scalia has now been pulled into the current presidential campaign: his death has prompted a partisan debate over which president — the incumbent or the winner of the November vote — should appoint his successor.
Why Antonin Scalia Was a Justice of Colossal Consequence
George F. Will – The Washington Post
Scalia was … one of the most formidable thinkers among the 112 justices who have served on the court, and he often dissented in the hope of shaping a future replete with majorities steeped in principles he honed while in the minority.
Those principles include textualism and originalism: A justice’s job is to construe the text of the Constitution or of statutes by discerning and accepting the original meaning the words had to those who ratified or wrote them. These principles of judicial modesty were embraced by a generation of conservatives who recoiled from what they considered the unprincipled creation of rights by results-oriented Supreme Court justices and other jurists pursuing their preferred policy outcomes.
Nominating Supreme Court justices is Obama’s job. Let him do it.
The Editorial Board – Los Angeles Times
Justice Antonin Scalia had been dead only a few hours when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate wouldn’t act on any replacement proposed by President Obama. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
This is self-serving sophistry. The American people do have a voice in any nomination Obama makes. They “spoke” when they elected him to a second term that has 11 months remaining. His authority to nominate Supreme Court justices is no more diminished by his supposed lame-duck status than any of his other constitutional powers.
In Praise of Antonin Scalia, The Gold Standard for Conservative Thought
Diana Furchtgott-Roth – MarketWatch
Scalia’s importance on the court cannot be exaggerated, and his loss will have immediate implications. Last week the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to issue a stay to block President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, leaving its fate to the next president. If Scalia had died a week earlier, the stay would not have been issued….
Scalia’s opinions were written clearly and wittily…. In his dissent to King v. Burwell, in which the Supreme Court concluded that Obamacare premium subsidies are available to those on federal exchanges, he wrote:
“The Act that Congress passed makes tax credits available only on an ‘Exchange established by the State.’ 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.”
Liberal Love for Antonin
Jamal Greene – The New York Times
Antonin Scalia was my hero. He was deeply conservative. He belittled lawyers. His opinions, especially in dissent, could be downright nasty. No justice in the Supreme Court’s history insulted his colleagues more, or more memorably. He was as aggressive and outspoken as I am reserved and cautious. He was a smoker. He was, in short, everything I am not. But I have looked up to him for years….
Justice Scalia was among the first to argue that constitutional interpreters should not be interested in the intentions of the framers but in the original meaning of the words they used. Original meaning turned out to be a life vest for the theory, keeping it afloat among conservative legal scholars and even some liberal ones….
He was a single-issue constitutional theorist, and his issue was originalism. For Justice Scalia and his fans, you viewed modern issues through an 18th-century quizzing glass or else you were an “activist.”