Why Antonin Scalia Still Matters
His writings should serve as a beacon to all Americans who believe in the conservative cause in 2018.
This upcoming Sunday would have been Antonin Scalia’s 82nd birthday. In the two years since his untimely passing, his towering intellect and animated presence has been sorely missed on the Supreme Court — notwithstanding the good work of Neil Gorsuch. A legal titan, Scalia’s strict adherence to the concepts of textualism and originalism made his written opinions “must read” material for the conservative movement. Sadly, his passing silenced a significant voice in the judiciary, but thankfully, he left us with a voluminous amount of public speeches and opinions that should serve as a beacon to all Americans who believe in the conservative cause in 2018.
Scalia devoted his life to the study of the law, and more importantly, the Constitution. A voracious reader throughout his life, Scalia learned that the creation of the Constitution was the result of compromise and, as he stated in a speech in 1991, “a spirit of humility.” His respect and admiration for its creators led him to view their product as “not living, but dead, or, as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”
He was a firm believer that the role of the United States judiciary was to interpret laws, but not in a way that would usurp power from the legislative or executive branches.
In an era where many people seek to denigrate the contributions of our Founding Fathers, Scalia’s lucid prose serves as a clarion call to truly understanding what makes our nation so unique and special. He challenged all of his fellow citizens to read and study The Federalist Papers because, “The Constitution will endure … only to the extent that it endures in your understanding and affection.”
That is why Scalia was such a staunch advocate of an informed citizenry. He realized that the fate of the country was dependent upon the civic and moral education of its people. That’s why one of the main themes in many of his speeches was virtue.
In the critically acclaimed book, Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived, the editors illuminate the late justice’s passion for education and advocacy for people to get involved in the political process. Scalia said that the limitations on democracy can only be defined by the people themselves, not a committee of judges. “And it is only the people themselves who can add or subtract from those limitations, through the amendment provision of the Constitution.”
That is why it is imperative that Republican voters make the effort to campaign, as well as vote, in this fall’s upcoming election. The last mid-term election (2014) saw the lowest turnout rate in 70 years. Couple that with the fact that only twice since World War II has the minority party not picked up seats and you have a scenario where every vote will have a real impact on the future of our country.
Justice Scalia believed that the future of the United States was only limited by the willingness of its people to get involved and make a difference. Out of the thousands of words that he composed during his lifetime there is one passage that truly captures the essence of his love for America:
“It is a belief that seems particularly to beset modern society that believing deeply in something, and following that belief, is the most important a person can do. … I am here to tell you that it is much less important how committed you are than what you are committed to.”
Only time will tell if conservatives will heed this call to action.