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

  • Phantom Review – A Cold War Cat and Mouse Thriller

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    “Phantom,” from Trilogy Entertainment and Anchor Bay Entertainment, brings the 1960’s Cold War back into mainstream with a high stakes, cat and mouse, mind manipulation, circumventing chase that is engrossing from the beginning.

     
  • Money News: DOW, World Markets Close Up; Nikkei Sinks

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The DOW Jones Industrial Average, as well as nine of the top ten world markets, rallied as investor confidence once again returned, to the global stage, with economies and markets exhibiting strong gains across the board.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Trump Stumps; GOP Exposed; Iran Sanctions; Yemen; WH Press Locked Out; Wildfires Rage

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Donald Trump has proven his single focused goal as president is to dismantle every piece of legislature enacted by former President Barack Obama and the Iranian Nuclear Deal is next on the chopping block.

     
  • THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN: A High Voltage, Wild, Swinging Ride

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Marvel Comics, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Columbia Pictures recently hosted a special screening for the LA Media of the hugely anticipated high voltage The Amazing SpiderMan at the AMC Theaters in Century City, California.

     
  • Israel on Holocaust Day: From Genocide to Freedom

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The recent rise in anti-semitism in the US and worldwide has made Holocaust Day in Israel much more meaningful. The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, just three years after the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews, was an incredible juxtaposition of events, unparalleled in history.   

     
  • People Exclusive: Inside the Leadership of the Word of Life Church: Is Tiffanie Irwin Running a Killer Cult

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The residents of the sleepy hamlet of Chadwicks, New York, had long suspected there was something different about the Word of Life Christian Church – even before two teenage brothers were savagely beaten after over a dozen hours inside the church's sanctuary room, according to police.

     
  • Grand Velas Los Cabos Restaurants Review - A Gastronomy Delight, Epicurean Ingenuity at its finest

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Grand Velas Los Cabos, as an all-inclusive offers a variety of gastronomic opportunities from lite fare to the Italian eatery Lucca, the French Piaf, and Velas 10, a steak and seafood house, all highly authentic and with an elevated approach to cuisine.

     
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Review: Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows All the Time

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs", the animated version of the classic children's book previewed recently for select media and followed with a press junket at the world famous Dylan's Candy Store on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

     
  • HL Streaming: 20 Top Rated Shows on Netflix

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

     

    From humble beginnings in 1999, when people could subscribe to get movies delivered to their door, to an entertainment juggernaut worth over $30 billion, Netflix has come a long way.

     
  • Whitney Houston Found Dead at Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Whitney Houston, the multi-Grammy Award winning superstar, has been found dead in her room at the exclusive Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, California.

     
  • Blood Brother Review - The Story of Rocky Braat and The Orphans He Loves

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Blood Brother, from Roco Films and Tugg Inc, brings to the screen the story of Rocky Braat, a wandering soul who found life among the abandoned, dispossessed, orphaned AIDS children of Tamil Nadu, India.

     
  • High Violet Introduces A Wonderful Mixed Bag of Rock, Indie, Jazz/Blues

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    From the London music scene today comes Elevant with a new EP recorded at Abbey Road; Florence Joelle, Parisian Soul, Latin Jazz, think heat set to music, and Anilore, from East Village NYC punk jumped the pond earning rave reviews.  

  • Circus Performers Critically Injured in Trapeze Accident

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A female troupe of nine Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey acrobats were critically injured during a morning matinee, when the trapeze in which they were suspended gave way, without warning, sending all crashing to the center ring.

     
  • Shoptalk Secures $2 Million Venture Capital Investment to Launch Shoptalk Europe

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Shoptalk, which organizes the most important U.S. event for innovation in retail and ecommerce, today announced $2 million in venture capital funding to support the launch of Shoptalk Europe and announced the first group of expected premiere Shoptalk Europe speakers.  

  • Protesters Line The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Route

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Protesters lined the streets of Manhattan's Upper West brandishing signs against the hate rhetoric of President elect Donald Trump and in solid support of Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton as well as environmental and clean water concerns and the Dakota Pipeline.