The United States of America has suffered a great loss this weekend. Sunday morning, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found motionless in the “El Presidente” suite of a West Texas Hunting Resort. The 30 year veteran of the nation’s highest court, well known for his strict interpretation of the US Constitution and often colorful and entertaining opinions. Reports filed with Justice’s death certificate indicate natural causes as Scalia had recently suffered from multiple health issues, according to his physician. He died in a place where he was the happiest, after a day of hunting blue quail. Justice was a man who defended 2nd Amendment rights, Executive Powers, Separation of Powers, and States’ Rights. He lay undisturbed in his room, still dressed in his pajamas of apparent heart failure.
Justice Scalia was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, following a contested nomination of Justice Rehnquist to the Chief Justice position. Scalia’s confirmation was unanimous by the US Senate, making him the first Italian-American appointed to the US Supreme Court.
Antonin Scalia was a first-generation American born in Trenton, New Jersey, to Italian immigrants. In school he was regarded as one of the brightest, graduating valedictorian from Xavier High School. He attended Georgetown University (valedictorian) and earned his Law Degree from Harvard, graduating magna cum laude.
Scalia would serve with great pride and conviction throughout the Nixon and Ford administrations. He was serving as General Counsel for the Office of Telecommunications and Assistant General Counsel to the Office of Legal Counsel. Following President Ronald Reagan’s election, Scalia was appointed to a seat on the District of Columbia Circuit where Judge Scalia built a reputation of conservative values and witty opinions regarding the rulings of the Supreme Court, which dictated his court decisions. It was this combination of intellect and colorful expression that made him a top candidate for Reagan’s Supreme Court nomination.
Antonin Scalia will be regarded as one of the most brilliant Justices to ever sit on the bench. His approach and style made him not unique but memorable to every person who he came in contact with. Scalia used his position from the bench to solicit more questions and opinions during oral arguments than any other of his colleagues.
While he was often left in the minority of decisions, his dissents were often just as influential as the majority opinions. Scalia was relentless and uncompromising in his interpretation of the US Constitution and rarely gave an inch, even if it resulted in a complete defeat for his opinion. He believed in strict adherence to the text of the Constitution. Critics had argued that Scalia had bent his originalist views when it concurred with his political convictions, and his thoughts and opinions were an attempt to “reverse the progress of the 1960s and 1970’s”.
Following the death of Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court will be left with a split decision membership. Eight judges, 4 Democrat-appointed judges, and 4 Republican-appointed judges. Before the ink was even dry on Justice Scalia’s death certificate, both parties are citing decades of precedence in whether or not a new judge can/will be appointed in President Obama’s last year in office. This will be Obama’s third appointment if it is confirmed.
A slight Republican majority in the Senate is the biggest obstacle facing a late-term nominee. Republican leaders are already calling for stonewall action against any nominations. President Obama has expressed his sense of duty in ensuring that a nominee is found and presented to the Senate for confirmation. Even in death, Justice Scalia has the ability to shake up the political world and bring one more Executive Power issue to the national forefront.
Farewell, Justice Scalia, and thank you for your excellent service to the people, the judiciary and the Constitution of the United States.
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