February 14, 2016

Requiescat in pace: Antonin Scalia 1936 - 2016

Antonin Scalia
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a brilliant jurist, legal scholar and devout Catholic, died yesterday at age 79. His opinions for the majority and, especially, in descent, displayed his inquisitive mind, incomparable intellect and sharp wit. Time online's profile of Scalia examines the role that the late justice's faith played in his life and decisions:
A devout Italian Catholic and a Ronald Reagan appointee, Scalia was one of the most conservative members of the bench, and he was known not just for his legal mind, but for his Catholic core. Scalia grew up with a devout mother, attended the Jesuit high school Xavier in New York City, was valedictorian at the Jesuit Georgetown University and featured a portrait of St. Thomas More, the martyr and patron saint of lawyers, in his Supreme Court office. One of his nine children, Paul Scalia, is a Catholic priest in the Arlington diocese of northern Virginia.  
Justice Scalia, one of the most consequential Americans in recent history, was born March 11, 1936 in Trenton, New Jersey, the only child to Salvatore and Catherine Scalia. When Antonin was six his family moved to Elmhurst, Queens, New York.

Scalia enrolled at Georgetown University. He graduated valedictorian with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. While in college, he was a champion collegiate debater and a critically praised thespian. Scalia studied law at Harvard Law School, where he wrote for the Harvard Law Review. He graduated from Harvard Law in 1960.

When the full Senate approved Scalia's nomination on September 17, 1986, he became the first Italian-American Justice to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia was a stalwart defender of human dignity, natural marriage and the unborn. Scalia wrote the following in his dissenting opinion in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey:
The States may, if they wish, permit abortion on demand, but the Constitution does not require them to do so. The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.
Scalia's dissenting opinion this past June in the Obergefell v. Hodges case legalizing gay 'marriage' is worth reading. Here are two excerpts:
[I]t is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. 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. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact—and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create ‘liberties’ that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.
*** 
This is a naked judicial claim to legislative — indeed, super-legislative — power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government. Except as limited by a constitutional prohibition agreed to by the People, the States are free to adopt whatever laws they like, even those that offend the esteemed Justices’ "reasoned judgment." A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy. 
With Justice Scalia's passing, our constitutional republic is very much in jeopardy. May his soul rest in peace.

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