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Scalia: The Man, The Justice

February 17, 2016
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

I am not a politician and I will never claim to be. I generally don't discuss politics, even at home, because most of the time my viewpoint greatly differs from those around me and starts an argument. I am however going to write this editorial regarding the passing of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday February 13, 2016.

Scalia believed in what the framers were trying to do when they drafted a new constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation. It took 55 men, sent by their state legislatures, to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia to write what we take for granted today. These men were visionaries and designed our Constitution to endure the challenges of time. They sought to not only address specific issues that may face our nation, but to establish a foundation of principles that our country could build upon as we grew.

Justice Scalia believed in what the Framers stood for and understood that the Constitution was a broad set of principles He stuck to the judicial philosophy of originalism that holds the Constitution should be interpreted in terms of what it meant to those who ratified it over 200 years ago. He was also a devout Roman Catholic that some accused of letting his personal beliefs enter into his judgment as a judge. Whatever the truth in this, Scalia was the longest sitting Justice and a controversial conservative that surprised many with some of his votes.

In many ways I agree with Justice Scalia in his belief, yet I hold that the Constitution is a living, breathing document that was meant as a guide and not set in stone. Although many criticized Scalia saying that his view of the Constitution would declare any progressive law unconstitutional, some believe in what the founding fathers and framers stood for. He was a controversial Justice and was not afraid to march to his own drummer. For this reason, I feel Scalia was oftentimes accused of allowing his conservative viewpoints to influence his legal judgment. Did it? I don't know, but what I do know is that Scalia's performance on the bench exemplified judicial restraint.

A puzzling man, he sometimes contradicted his own conservative beliefs, as in upholding free speech in the Texas flag-burning case and striking down a prohibition on hate speech. He recused himself from cases whose topic would interest him, such as the Pledge of Allegiance case of Elk Grove v. Newdow and refused to recuse himself in the case of Cheney v. US District Court for DC, even though he had a close personal relationship with Vice President Dick Cheney at the time. Scalia voted against Obamacare and same-sex marriages. He said that it was not the Supreme Court's role to decide same-sex marriage.

I believe in what Scalia stood for, yet I do not consider myself a framer or a conservative. Yet I am not liberal either. I feel I am somewhere in between.

I believe that it is a challenge of the Supreme Court to be able to define and give life and substance to the principles of the framers as society changed; yet the application of those principles must change to meet the challenges of a changing society. Nothing ever stays the same and the framers of our Constitution understood that.

I believe that our Constitution is a living, breathing document that will continue to grow to meet the changes society challenges it with. I believe that the underlying principles of the Constitution and the Original Bill of Rights needs to be upheld by the Court for today and the future of our Country as a whole.

Scalia was the ideal conservative for the Supreme Court and it will be hard to fill his shoes.



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