Others have summed up the death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia better than I can. But I wanted to post something to mark the passing of this man.
I don’t always follow the workings of the Supreme Court as often as I should, because many different things battle for my time and attention. But one thing that always stood about him was how seriously he took the Constitution. Whereas others were inclined to take the Constitution as a roadblock to their own policy wet dreams, Scalia chose instead to look at it as a guide.
“If the Bill of Rights had intended an exception to the freedom of speech in order to combat this malign proclivity of the officeholder to agree with those who agree with him, and to speak more with his supporters than his opponents, it would surely have said so. It did not do so, I think, because the juice is not worth the squeeze.”
Judicial activism is one of the major issues of our time. On what basis did the court rule on gay marriage, either in the affirmative or the negative? The Supreme Court is to handle cases of Constitutional law and crisis, and the Constitution makes no mention of the institution of marriage, much less that of specific demographics. Since powers not expressly granted to the Federal Government are reserved for the states or the people, it should have been struck back down to the states for resolution.
And if people really wanted a law passed, it could have come via Congress.
Scalia’s own dissenting opinion on the matter is reflective of his understanding of this issue:
“Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court,”
Scalia may have been a child of Italian immigrants, but he was firmly rooted in the Anglo-American tradition of limited government. Were he alive in the Revolutionary period, I am certain the Founders would have found common cause with him.
And I guess that’s why I mourn his passage as I do. He represented what old school Republican government was supposed to look like. He understood the dangers of authoritarianism, and held on to that position despite his appointment to one of the highest offices of the land. In an era of political courts, he was the sole voice of Constitutional reason. His political angle was to go to the Constitution when questions needed answering, instead of going to the opinion polls.
We won’t see his like again for awhile. In an era when even “Conservatives” are forgetting just what they were supposed to conserve, when Socialism and Authoritarianism are all the rage, he was a throwback to the days of the early Republic. Even if we had a Conservative Congress (we don’t, by the way), and a Conservative President, I doubt another could be found to fill his shoes. As it stands, I despair that we’ll find anyone to the Right of Karl Marx.
“God has been very good to us. One of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor.”
He was a Godly man, so I have no doubt that he found his proper reward.