You Will Never Be Forgotten

You Will Never Be Forgotten

Jose-Ramon Serrano, Staff Writer

On February 13, 2015, it was reported that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died at the age of 79. He died in his sleep during a visit to Texas. It’s not easy for his family knowing that he has been in the U.S Supreme Court Justice for a long period of his life.  Also not easy for those who have known him personally in congress. But a question remains in my head. How many people in the US know who is Justice Antonin Scalia?

Who is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia?

Antonin Scalia was a U.S. Supreme Court Justice member born on March 11, 1936 in Trenton, New Jersey. He was a practicing lawyer in the 1960s, and then worked in public service in the ’70s with roles in President Nixon’s general counsel and as the Assistant Attorney General. In the ’80s he became a part of President Ronald Reagan’s Court of Appeals. In 1986 the President nominated him as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

A fact about his early life was that he was the only child of Salvadore Eugene and Catherine Panaro Scalia. His father emigrated from Sicily as a teenager and came through Ellis Island. The older Scalia got a college education and became a professor of romance languages at Brooklyn College. Antonin Scalia’s mother was first generation Italian-American who worked as an elementary school teacher until Antonin was born. Early in life, he acquired the nickname “Nino,” partly in remembrance of his grandfather, for whom he was named.

As a young boy, Antonin Scalia enjoyed being an only child in his immediate family as well as his extended family, a rare occurrence in Italian Catholic families at the time. Scalia admitted that being the center of so much attention gave him a very secure feeling growing up. But being the only child also meant everyone’s expectations were put squarely on him. His father was a major influence in his life providing him with much of his core values of conservatism, hard work, and discipline that he exhibited as an adult.

Antonin Scalia grew up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood of Queens in New York City. He attended a public elementary school where he was a straight A student. He went on to Xavier High School in Manhattan, a military school run by the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church. It was there that Scalia’s conservatism and deep religious conviction was further developed. Self-described as “not a cool kid,” he spent much of his time absorbed in his school work, and he continued to receive high academic marks and finished first in his class.

In 1953, Antonin Scalia enrolled at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he graduated valedictorian and summa cum laude with a bachelors degree in History in 1957. After graduation, he went on to study at Harvard Law School and during his final year he met his wife of 48 years, Maureen McCarthy, an undergraduate at Radcliffe College. The marriage flourished with nine children and 28 grandchildren.

In 1972, Antonin Scalia entered public service when President Richard Nixon appointed him general counsel for the Office of Telecommunications Policy where he helped formulate regulations for the cable television industry. In the immediate aftermath of the Watergate scandal in 1974, Scalia was appointed Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Council. In this role, he testified before congressional committees on behalf of the Ford administration over executive privilege. He later argued his first and only case before the U.S. Supreme Court in Alfred Dunhill of London, Inc. v. Republic of Cuba on behalf of the U.S. Government and won the case.

Supreme Court Justice

As a Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia was considered to be one of the more prominent legal thinkers of his generation. It was also through his blunt (some would say scathing) dissents that he earned a reputation as combative and insulting. And yet to many who knew him personally, he was unpretentious, charming, and funny. One of his closest friends on the Supreme Court was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose political views were vastly different from his own.

Justice Scalia adhered to the judicial philosophy of originalism which holds that the Constitution should be interpreted in terms of what it meant to those who ratified it over two centuries ago. This was in direct conflict with the more commonly held view that the Constitution is a “living document,” allowing courts to take into account the views of contemporary society. In Justice Scalia’s view the Constitution was not supposed to facilitate change, but to impede change to citizens’ basic fundamental rights and responsibilities. Justice Scalia abhorred “judicial activism” and believed the place for implementing change was in the legislature, where the will of the people are represented.

Critics say that such a legal interpretation is an impediment toward progress and point to many different examples of where the Constitution’s founders held views repugnant to today’s standards such as racial and gender equality. Scalia’s opponents stress that by interpreting the Constitution in its original form, any progressive law would be declared unconstitutional because it doesn’t adhere to the original intent of the founders. For these reasons, Justice Scalia was oftentimes accused of allowing his conservative views to influence his legal judgment.

Antonin Scalia’s performance on the bench exemplified judicial restraint. However, he puzzled conservatives and pleased liberals by voting to uphold free speech, as in the Texas flag-burning case and striking down a prohibition on hate speech. He strived to limit the right to an abortion, rejecting the notion that his position was religiously motivated, stressing that the issue should be decided in the legislature. He made no apology to the accusation that his role in the case of Bush v. Gore handed the 2000 election to George W. Bush, telling critics it was the right thing to do. He also confounded many Court observers by his recusal record where he withdrew from cases whose topic would interest him, such as the Pledge of Allegiance case of Elk Grove v. Newdow, but refused to when there was a suspected conflict of interest as in the case of Cheney v. US District Court for DC, even though he had a close personal relationship with then-Vice-President Dick Cheney.

On June 25, 2015, when the Supreme Court handed down a 6 to 3 majority decision in the case of King v. Burwell, upholding a key component of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Scalia made headlines in voicing his dissent. Scalia called the majority decision which allowed the federal government to provide nationwide tax subsidies to help Americans buy health insurance “interpretive jiggery-pokery” in which “words no longer have meaning.” In his dissenting opinion he wrote: “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” referring to the acronym used to refer to the Supreme Court of the Unites States (SCOTUS) and Obamacare. He added: “The Court’s decision reflects the philosophy that judges should endure whatever interpretive distortions it takes in order to correct a supposed flaw in the statutory machinery. That philosophy ignores the American people’s decision to give Congress “[a]ll legislative Powers” enumerated in the Constitution.”

One day after the Supreme Court ruling on the health care law on June 26, 2015, the highest court announced a landmark 5 to 4 ruling guaranteeing a right to same-sex marriage. Justice Scalia voted against the majority decision along with fellow conservatives  Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Scalia expressed his opinion that it was not the Supreme Court’s role to decide same-sex marriage, and he wrote that the ruling was “at odds not only with the Constitution, but with the principles upon which our nation were built.”

Over the course of his judicial career, Justice Antonin Scalia was characterized as the anchor of the court’s conservative majority. In his quarter century on the court he became a political celebrity, especially with socially and politically conservative groups.

On February 13, 2016, 79-year-old Scalia was found dead at a luxury resort in West Texas. He reportedly died of natural causes.

Throughout Justice Antonin Scalia life growing up as the only child was not easy for him at all. Just knowing that everyone’s expectations were put squarely on him. I gust being the only child can be some what good at time’s or not. The fact of knowing the history of Justice Antonin Scalia life and the knowing the accomplishment he made throughout his life is amazing to me and should be amazing to other’s. I know that Justice Antonin Scalia was happy of the life he lived and servicing the most hight court house in the US.

Just knowing the history of his life is amazing to know because we never know that someone in the US is trying to follow his footstep’s on one day to serve as the US Supreme Court judge.

Like many say you are gone but never forgotten.