Antonin Scalia (1936-2016) was appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1986 and served until his death yesterday.
Scalia was considered excessively conservative by most of his contemporaries but America’s founding fathers would have considered his views reasonable and consistent with their own.
Antonin Scalia was a clear thinker. Note in the quotes below how he shines the light of reason on modern society’s trite aphorisms. People today are encouraged to “follow conscience,” or “never compromise principle,” or “follow one’s star,” yet Scalia wisely adds:
More important than your obligation to follow your conscience, or at least prior to it, is your obligation to form your conscience correctly.
Never compromise your principles, unless of course your principles are Adolf Hitler’s, in which case you would be well advised to compromise them as much as you can.
Indeed, follow your star if you want to head north and it’s the North Star. But if you want to head north and it’s Mars, you had better follow somebody else’s star.
Scalia also rightly challenged the expansion of judicial power in our time:
Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.
Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.
You think there ought to be a right to abortion? No problem. The Constitution says nothing about it. Create it the way most rights are created in a democratic society. Pass a law.
Every time the Supreme Court defines another right in the Constitution it reduces the scope of democratic debate.
Lastly, here’s a quote from Scalia that stirred a completely-unwarranted controversy in the last year:
One of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor.
Antonin Scalia was a great man, but these views of his are not the sole property of great men. Rather, this should be the way that every single Supreme Court justice thinks – otherwise, such a person should not be appointed to such an important position.
Scalia believed that America is a nation under God. Alas, most of America in his time came to believe that America is a nation out from under God. Scalia’s view did not prevail in his lifetime; it will prevail in the long run. By that, I mean that there is no such thing as a nation out from under God. There are only those nations that prosper because they recognize that they are under God and those that decline because they won’t recognize that they are under God.
We can thank God for what this good man has done for our country.