14 Feb 2016

Antonin Gregory Scalia (1936-2016)

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Antonin_Scalia

Let’s remember him with some of his best comments.

“A Bill of Rights that means what the majority wants it to mean is worthless.”

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“[There’s] the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break. But you would have to be an idiot to believe that; the Constitution is not a living organism; it is a legal document. It says something and doesn’t say other things…. [Proponents of the living constitution want matters to be decided] not by the people, but by the justices of the Supreme Court …. They are not looking for legal flexibility, they are looking for rigidity, whether it’s the right to abortion or the right to homosexual activity, they want that right to be embedded from coast to coast and to be unchangeable.”

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“To allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.

If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

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SDD

Scalia was brilliant in his defense of the Constitution. He recognized almost like no other that our Constitution has been a uniquely effective bulwark to tyranny. He also saw firsthand the consequences that ensue when it is eviscerated for the purpose of satisfying whichever fashionable impulses capture people’s imaginations.

In a 2012 interview with Chris Wallace, Scalia said that he would be horribly disappointed if he were to be replaced with someone dedicated to tearing down the premise of textualism. Let us hope that this does not occur.



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