Earlier this week, the news broke of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the age of 79. Political leanings aside, it is indisputable that Justice Scalia was a giant in the legal community and will be remembered as an extremely influential (and at many times, polarizing) Justice during his tenure.
Justice Scalia was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, filling the vacancy left by Justice William Rehnquist. Justice Scalia was the first Italian-American Supreme Court Justice. Justice Scalia was also known as a “grammar nerd” and his writing style has been admired and carefully studied by legal scholars and grammarians alike. During his 30 year tenure, Justice Scalia weighed in on many important cases that have shaped the legal landscape of American life, including:
Kyllo v. United States – barring police from using a thermal-imaging device to look into a home
Florida v. Jardines – requiring a warrant before entering a private property with a drug-sniffing dog
Texas v. Johnson – in which the Court held that flag burning qualified as constitutionally protected expression under the First Amendment.
Justice Scalia is also remembered critically by many for some of his dissenting opinions, such as in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where he argued that Roe v. Wade was decided incorrectly, and in Lawrence v. Texas, in which the majority decided to invalidate a law which criminalized same-sex sodomy.
There has been no shortage of analysis in the wake of Justice Scalia’s passing, but my favorite story that has emerged was of his friendship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The two were known as the court’s “most famous odd couple friendship” due to their political and ideological differences.
Despite my personal disagreement with many of his decisions, I have great respect for Justice Scalia’s brilliant legal mind and witty, opinionated style. May he rest in peace and my thoughts and prayers are with Justice Scalia’s family and friends.