Justice Antonin Scalia: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Images

The recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a historically conservative firebrand on the Supreme Court, sent shockwaves through the political world. In the middle of a hectic and noisy presidential primary, the Republican candidates shared a moment of silence during their ninth debate — and then dove into a conversation about whether President Barack Obama should nominate a successor.

Scalia left his mark on the judicial branch of the U.S. government over the course of his 33 years in the public eye. The many bipartisan tributes pouring in after his death at the age of 79 have praised his intellect, wit and dedication to public service.

InsideGov digs into Scalia’s personal history and record on the court to find 25 essential facts and figures that defined his life and career. We’ve looked at it all, from his guest turn in an opera to that time he made a list of potential vice presidential candidates, ranking everything from the smallest to largest figure.

0 Breathing Documents

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Scalia was a strict constitutionalist, articulating that the Constitution was “not a living document.” Instead, Scalia said the document is “dead, dead, dead” and must be read exactly as the Founding Fathers wrote it.

1 Elephant Ride

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Scalia and his fellow Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, rode on an elephant together in India in 1994. The two justices, on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, were “best buddies,” according to Ginsburg’s tribute to Scalia following his death.

1 of 3 Dissenters

Scalia was one of three justices who dissented in Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 case that invalidated a sodomy law in Texas and made consensual same-sex activity legal throughout the U.S. The majority found that consensual sex between adults was protected under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. But Scalia argued the court took “sides in the culture war” and “signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.”

1 Case, 1 Win

Before he was appointed to the Supreme Court, Scalia served as the assistant attorney general under former President Gerald Ford. During that time, he argued his only case in front of the Supreme Court, Alfred Dunhill of London Inc. v. Republic of Cuba. The case looked at how to handle cigar manufacturing profits after Cuba nationalized U.S. businesses in 1960. Scalia argued for Dunhill, and won.

2nd Amendment

Guns

In 2008, Scalia penned the majority opinion for the District of Columbia v. Heller case, which argued the Second Amendment provides Americans with the right to gun ownership. Scalia wrote that the “militia” referred to in the amendment pertains to individuals, not just the military.

Heller was one of the five cases 2016 Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz won at the Supreme Court during his tenure as the Texas solicitor general.

2 Guest Appearances

Stephen R. Brown/AP Images

Scalia and Ginsburg, both opera aficionados, made joint guest appearances in performances of Richard Strauss’s “Ariadne auf Naxos” in 1994 and 2009. Their long friendship inspired a one-act comic opera, “Scalia/Ginsburg,” which premiered in July 2015.

3 Books

Ben Neary/AP Images

A verbose and colorful writer on the bench, Scalia penned three books, starting with his 1997 tome, “A Matter of Interpretation.” He co-wrote his next two with Bryan Garner, a lawyer and legal scholar on language.

4 Years

AgnosticPreachersKid/Wikimedia Commons

In 1982, former President Ronald Reagan appointed Scalia to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. During his four years in that role, Scalia developed his distinctive, sharp writing style that he became known for.

5-3 Vote

In a 5-3 vote in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court ruled against military commissions for detainees at Guantanamo Bay. In the run-up to arguments at the court, five retired generals asked Scalia to recuse himself because of comments he made during a speech a few weeks earlier in Switzerland. He said foreigners who waged war on the U.S. had no rights under the Constitution. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who said he was Osama bin Laden’s driver and was designated an “enemy combatant” by the U.S., questioned the military commissions. Scalia was part of the three-person dissent in the case.

Score of 5.25

According to data from OnTheIssues, Scalia was the most conservative justice on the bench, coming in at 5.25 on the scoring scale. OnTheIssues’ scores range from negative 10 (very liberal) to positive 10 (very conservative). Scalia’s more moderate views on international and economic issues helped to average out his very conservative perspective on individual rights.

7 in the Majority

Scalia was part of the majority in the 2000 case Bush v. Gore, which stopped the recount in Florida and ultimately led to George W. Bush assuming the presidency. The case was split into two questions, about the constitutionality of the way the votes were counted and the feasibility of a recount.

By a 7-2 vote, the court found there was a violation to the Equal Protection Clause when different standards of vote counting were used in different counties in Florida. The court also found, in a 5-4 decision, that a recount couldn’t happen in a reasonable timeframe.

9 Children

M. Spencer Green/AP Images

Scalia and his wife, Maureen McCarthy Scalia, had nine children, but the grandkid tally varies: some news outlets count 36 grandchildren while others count 28. Scalia himself was an only child, and was the lone kid of his generation within his larger family, as his parents’ siblings didn’t have any children.

21 Pages

In his 21-page dissent of the King v. Burwell case in 2015, Scalia delivered some of his most memorable zingers. In a 6-3 vote, the court upheld the tax subsidies in the Affordable Care Act, but not before Scalia described the decision as “pure applesauce” and “interpretive jiggery-pokery.” (Fact: Scalia used the phrase “sheer applesauce” in a 2007 dissent about school funding.)

29 Years, Five Months

Scalia served on the Supreme Court for almost 30 years. Former President Ronald Reagan appointed Scalia to the high court in September 1986.

30 Days

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images

The flags in the plaza in front of the Supreme Court will fly at half-staff for 30 days after Scalia’s death.

31st of December

Anthony Quintano/Flickr

Every year, Scalia and Ginsburg celebrated New Year’s Eve together. Scalia called the pair “the odd couple” during a 2015 speech at George Washington University in D.C.

50 Years Old

Charles Tasnadi/AP Images

Scalia was 50 years old when the Senate confirmed him, making him the youngest justice on the Supreme Court at the time.

54 Percent

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images

When he was among the dissenting votes on a case, Scalia wrote an opinion 54 percent of the time.

62 Years

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images

In the last 62 years of the Supreme Court’s history, Scalia is the third justice to die while in office. Justice Robert H. Jackson died in 1954 and Chief Justice William Rehnquist died in 2005.

66.7 Percent

Scalia was one of six Roman Catholics on the Supreme Court, meaning two-thirds of the current justices subscribe to that faith. The remaining three justices are all Jewish.

77 “Laughing Episodes”

Rogelio V. Solis/AP Images

Although perhaps best known for his staunch conservatism, Scalia was also known for his sharp wit, in his writing and during arguments. According to a study of transcripts from the Supreme Court’s 2004-2005 term, Scalia inspired 77 bouts of laughter during oral arguments — by far the most among his colleagues.

85 Days

It took 85 days for Scalia to go from Supreme Court nominee to confirmed justice.

98 Votes

During his Senate confirmation in 1986, Scalia received 98 votes — the second-highest margin since 1970. Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor received 99 votes in 1981.

1957 Valedictorian at Georgetown University

For his undergraduate degree, Scalia studied history at Georgetown and graduated at the top of his class. He then studied law at Harvard Law School.

1996 Republican Ticket

J. David Ake/AFP/Getty Images

When former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., ran for president in 1996, Rep. John Boehner — then the head of the House Republican Conference — “tried to persuade” Scalia to run as Dole’s vice president. Scalia declined, and Jack Kemp, a longtime congressman out of New York, ended up joining the ticket.

Research More About the Supreme Court

Haute Tease

  • The Master and The Slave - Man Verses Machine

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The accelerated development of autonomous cars equipped with an Auto-pilot a few months ago asks about the responsibilities to be assumed in the event of a disaster but also about the place and the influence of the Man in front of the technical progress supposed to second him.

     
  • Tribute and Damage - Have We Lost Sight of the Lessons of History

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The end of the celebrations of the centenary of the First World War have passed and does not leave without questioning the relations, the interactions, of the French to History. And if they had simply changed?

     
  • Classic, Clean, Elegant, Bridal Styling by Caroline Castigliano

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Brides today are bombarded with over-the-top wedding dress trends making it hard for those searching for a classic style to find the dream dress and with the innumerable details involved with planning that perfect day, expertise is of upmost importance.

     
  • Post-Premiere and Red Carpet Arrivals At BLIND From Vertical Entertainment (Photos)

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Blind, the upcoming indie film with big star power, recently held the premiere and after party in Manhattan drawing the films Director, Michael Mailer, talent, Demi Moore, Alec Baldwin and Dylan McDermott, and others to the hot spot Bagatelle in the Meatpacking District.

     
  • A Conversation With Battle Los Angeles Director Jonathan Liebesman

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Battle los Angeles, the gritty war sci-fi drama, directed by Jonathan Liebesman has captured audiences throughout the world with its realistic raw portrayal of a nation, a world, on the brink of annihilation.

     
  • The Hurt, Set to Release “Sleeping,” Featuring Lyrics Co-Written by Rikki Turner and Stephen Evans

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Hurt, an electronica, post punk, sound with Rikki Turner of Paris Angels teaming with Stephen Evans of Cabbage, co-write lyrics that have been called a brooding masterpiece, is set to release Sleeping from Blindside Records in May.  

  • Lovely Molly, Graphically Shocking and Deeply Resonating, from Director Eduardo Sanchez

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    LOVELY MOLLY, the newest film from Blair Witch Project Director Eduardo Sanchez brings to the screen a troubling, albeit realistic, portrayal of the deep devastations of childhood traumas surfacing in adult lives.

     
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin Review – Beautifully Made, Award Worthy Performances; Simply Perfect

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Goodbye Christopher Robin, from Fox Searchlight Pictures, brings to the screen a beautiful glimpse into the family and childhood, the drama, the mental anguish, the heartbreak and hope that inspired A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books.

     
  • Novitiate Review - Performance Driven Indie Delivers

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Novitiate, from Sony Pictures Classics, presents an insider's view behind the scared walls of the nunnery as it follows a group of young women who believe they have been called to the live a life of sacrifice in service for God.

     
  • Celeb Photos: Sony Pictures Classics Hosts Exclusive Annual Pre-Academy Awards® Dinner Party

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Sony Pictures Classics fêted its 2015 Academy Awards® nominees and 2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards nominees and winners at its annual Pre-Oscar® dinner party at STK Steakhouse in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 21st.

     
  • I-Origins Review - Stunning, a Eye-Catching Sci-Fi Winner

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "I-Origins,"from Fox Searchlight Pictures and Verisimilitude/WeWork Studios presents a modern science fiction mystery fantasy that shows the potential of contemporary medical advances and the disastrous misuse when cutting edge falls into the wrong hands.

     
  • Spring Gift Guide Review: Smart Travel Solutions

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Spring has sprung and many are gearing up to get out of Dodge.  But before you pack those bags and hit the road, consider these problem solving solutions that can enhance the travel experience in a variety of ways.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Trump/CA Wildfires, Pence/Asia, G20; Immigration Caravan; Argentina Sub; CIA/Khashoggi; CNN; Thanksgiving

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Trump met yesterday with California Governor Jerry Brown, Governor Elect Gavin Newsom and First Responders in Chico, California, at the Incident Command Post, to see firsthand the unimaginable devastation left in the wake of the Camp Fire.

     
  • GuitarTown Kids Launches Celebrity Art Guitars For Auction Benefitting The T.J. Martell Foundation Pediatric Cancer Research

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    GuitarTown Kids, a celebrity art guitar auction event has officially launched on CharityBuzz.com, featuring art guitars, exclusive, beautifully hand painted and celebrity signed Gibson Guitars, to benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation’s pediatric cancer research at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

     
  • Drive-By Shooting Kills Seven

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Gun fire erupted in the coastal community of Isla Vista, near UC Santa Barbara, in a drive-by shooting that left seven dead and another seven injured in what police are calling a premeditated attack by a disgruntled student.