Remembering Justice Scalia

By Douglas J. Swearingen, Jr., Esq.

In a culture where disagreement with regard to politics and jurisprudence can devolve into personal attacks and bickering between adversaries in the courtroom or on the debate stage, Justice Scalia helped to show us what it meant to be able in argument, but quick to friendship and mutual respect.

In the wake of Justice’s Scalia’s death, stories are surfacing that help to illustrate the late Justice’s kindness, compassion, and humility – qualities that critics of his legal writings would claim he lacked. One need not look further than Scalia’s colleagues on the bench to discover Justice Scalia’s professionalism exemplified by his longtime and ongoing friendship with Justice Ginsburg. Obviously, the interesting aspect of the relationship was that Justice Scalia and Ginsburg rarely agreed in their legal opinions. Nevertheless, when Justice Ginsburg was named by Times in the list of “The 100 Most Influential People” in 2015, it was Justice Scalia who composed Ginsburg’s tribute and wrote that he “had the good fortune to serve beside her  . . .”

Justice Scalia remained a devoted husband and father at home, where he raised nine children with his wife of fifty-five years, Maureen Scalia. During the homily at Scalia’s funeral Mass, his son, Father Paul Scalia (a Roman Catholic priest), extoled Scalia’s love for his faith, family, and country.

Scalia will be remembered for his adherence to, and appreciation for, the written text of statutes which the Court interpreted, and his originalist perspective on the Constitution. It will be interesting to see if any future justices defend this position in the future as vehemently as Scalia.

As Chief Justice Roberts stated, “He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues.  His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served.”