Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Justice Scalia, Rest in Peace

Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly over the weekend. Individuals who often disagree about fundamental legal and political questions have offered effusive praise for the Justice, filled with superlatives such as "giant of jurisprudence," "great man," "legal giant," "one of the greats," "great," "legal giant." (again), "legal titan," and "deeply principled."  

Those who are familiar with Justice Scalia's life and work are not surprised by these encomiums. The Justice was deeply and fiercely committed to the Rule of Law.  He knew that departure from the original meaning of the Constitution or ordinary legislation gave judges and others a license to exercise arbitrary and illegitimate authority over their fellow citizens. Through sheer force of intellect, profound learning, wit and powerful expression, he changed the way that lawyers and judges interpret and thus apply legal texts in our constitutional republic.  As a Judge and then a Justice he worked tirelessly to discern and apply the meaning of statutes and constitutional provisions that governed the cases before him, rendering great service to our constitutional republic in the process. He did all of this with an abiding faith in the American People and their ability to govern themselves through law, both ordinary and constitutional, that compels officials, including judges, to heed the People’s will.  His work and personal example inspired countless individuals to defend the Constitution and the Rule of Law.  His death leaves an enormous void in our Republic and in the lives of so many individuals who loved and admired him.