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

  • “Grace of Monaco” by Olivier Dahan to open the 67th Festival de Cannes

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    French director Olivier Dahan’s "Grace of Monaco"  is to open the next Festival de Cannes. The world preview will take place on Wednesday 14 May, 2014, in the Grand Théâtre Lumière of the Palais des Festivals, in the Official Selection category, Out of Competition.

     
  • Jon Stewart Signs Exclusive Production Deal With HBO

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart has landed an exclusive four-year production deal with Time Warner Inc.'s premium cable channel HBO. The cross-platform agreement will see Stewart create short-form digital content that will be featured on HBO Now, HBO Go and other platforms.

     
  • LAFF Announces Music in Film, Festival Tributes to Director Jonathan Demme, Rodrigo Garcia

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Los Angeles Film Festival, produced by Film Independent with Presenting Media Sponsor the Los Angeles Times and Host Partner L.A. LIVE, announced several additions to the 2015 Festival program and three additional world premieres.  

  • Manhunt for Murder Suspect, Kidnapper James Lee DiMaggio Extends To Canadian Border

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The manhunt for murder suspect James Lee DiMaggio has extended to the entire west coast and the Canadian and Mexican borders, as the child kidnapper has eluded police and capture for three days.

     
  • Nanfu Wang, Anna Rose Holmer and Jordana Mollick Named 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant Winners

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the LA Film Festival, announced the winners of its three Spirit Awards filmmaker grants today at its annual Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch held at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood. Sterling K. Brown and Issa Rae co-hosted the event and handed out the honors.

Crime

  • Homicide Ruling in Staten Island Choke Victim Case

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The death of Eric Garner, 43, the Staten Island father of two choked to death by New York Police Officers after being detained on a city street, has been ruled a homicide by the New York City Medical Examiner.

     
  • Hannah Anderson Sheds Little Light on Mental State of James DiMaggio

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Hannah Anderson, the teen abducted by James L. DiMaggio, has shed little light on his mental condition witnessed throughout the six day ordeal that began when the family friend tricked her mother into coming to his aid.

     
  • UPDATE: Chicago’s Bloody Christmas Weekend Thankfully Ends; 2016 Expected to Be Third Highest

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Chicago’s bloody rampage continued Monday with a sharp spike in shootings and with five days before New Year’s Eve the 61 shootings, 50 wounded and 11 homicides, over the three-day holiday weekend bring the 2016 total to 785 homicides.

     
  • People Exclusive: Police Recover Body of Missing Alabama Teen Who Called Mother to Say Someone Was Trying to Kill Him

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    EXCLUSIVE REPRINT (NEW YORK) – Police have found the body of a 19-year-old Alabama boy who went missing Saturday after telling his mother by phone that someone was trying to kill him.

     
  • The Grim Sleeper, The South Central Serial Killer, Is Convicted

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

     

    Lonnie Franklin, Jr., The Grim Sleeper Serial Killer, was convicted of ten counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after three decades since his killing spree began, and may face the death penalty when the sentencing phase concludes.

Theatre, Music, Books

  • NYPD Green Book Review - Page Turning Detective Thriller

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    NYPD Green, a memoir from Luke Waters, details his life from undocumented Irish immigrant to ranking detective in one of the largest police departments in the world solving horrendous cases and the interactions and working with other judicial agencies.

     
  • A California Closing Review – The Perfect Set of Characters for A Summertime Read

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Ready for a digital detox? Looking for the perfect summer read, a purely fun, page turner, turned down corners, smudged pages, a no app necessary, trashy, romance novel or high brow biography; soft or hard a genuine book?

     
  • Coffee Table Art For the Intellectually Promiscuous

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Coffee Table Art, considered the staple for the difficult on our Christmas list, has changed over the years and with the internet bookstore finding that perfect tome, a keepsake, a DIY guide, the best images of seven continents has never been easier.

     
  • San Diego Jazz Fest Features Traditional Jazz, Swing, Boogie Woogie, Rockabilly, Gospel, and Ragtime

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    San Diego, California, For Immedite Release - The San Diego Jazz Fest takes place November 26-November 30 and will feature over thirty bands and guest artists from across the U.S. playing for dancing and listening in seven venues.

     
  • After Snowden - Privacy, Secrecy and Security in the Information Age Review – Opens The Floor to Debate

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    In June 2013, Edward Snowden leaked thousands of documents he stole from the National Security Agency (NSA), from several laptop computers, exposing flaws and violations of the Fourth Amendment routinely practiced in the Domestic Surveillance program.