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

  • Victoria & Abdul Review – Dame Judi Dench and Company Present Perfection

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Victoria & Abdul, from Focus Features and Working Title Films, presents a little known season in Queen Victoria’s reign when she challenged and angered those around her by learning, living and loving and refusing to go quietly into the night.

     
  • Celebrities Partner with OCEANA to Restore Worlds Oceans

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    OCEANA, founded in 2001, is the largest ocean protection group in the world dedicated to restoring, implementing and protecting the world’s oceans. 

     
  • ACADEMY NAMES 2013–2014 BOARD OF GOVERNORS

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Ten first-time governors have been elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors. In addition, eight incumbents have been reelected and one previous governor is returning to the board. This year's election increases the Academy's governing body from 43 to 48.

     
  • 2014 Tribeca Film Festival Announces Award Winners

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    (April 24, 2014 – New York, NY] – The 13th annual Tribeca Film Festival, co-founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, and presented by AT&T, announced the winners of its competition categories tonight at a ceremony presided over by Pat Kiernan and hosted at the Conrad New York in New York City. The Festival runs through April 27, 2014.

     
  • Awards Announced For 2015 Stanley Film Festival

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Stanley Film Festival (SFF), presented by Chiller and produced by the Denver Film Society, announced the audience and jury award winners, Birth.Movies.Death Filmmaking Frenzy winners and presented Tom Quinn, co-president of RADiUS, with the 2015 Stanley Film Festival Visionary Award. 

Crime

  • Two NYPD Police Officers Executed in Gangland Style Ambush

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Two NYPD Police Officers, in a gangland style hit, were shot at point blank range while sitting in a marked police cruiser outside the Tompkins Housing Project in Brooklyn at around 3:00pm Saturday.

     
  • Five Dallas Police Officers Dead; Seven Others Injured in Peace March Ambush

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Five Dallas Police Officers have died and seven others injured in an ambush as a protest over the recurring use of excessive and deadly force against unarmed African Americans turned violent leaving a city and nation stunned.

     
  • The Grim Sleeper, The South Central Serial Killer, Is Convicted

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

     

    Lonnie Franklin, Jr., The Grim Sleeper Serial Killer, was convicted of ten counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after three decades since his killing spree began, and may face the death penalty when the sentencing phase concludes.

     
  • Breaking News: 13 Dead On Campus; 20 injured in Oregon Mass Shooting

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A lone gunman opened fire on the Umpqua Community College Campus in Roseburg, Oregon this morning killing 13 students and injuring 20 in an all too common scenario that left the shooter “neutralized” and reportedly deceased at the scene.  

  • Tennessee Boy Found Guilty in Murder Of Neighbor Girl

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    In a story that has gained international attention, Benjamin Nicolas Tiller, 11, has been found guilty of first degree murder in the shotgun death of his neighbor, MaKayla Dyer, 8, stemming from a dispute that escalated over puppies.

Theatre, Music, Books

  • Coffee Table Art For the Intellectually Promiscuous

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Coffee Table Art, considered the staple for the difficult on our Christmas list, has changed over the years and with the internet bookstore finding that perfect tome, a keepsake, a DIY guide, the best images of seven continents has never been easier.

     
  • Tyler Hilton Secues London's Blue Soap To Arrange Interviews and Airplay for US Tour

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    We're delighted to be working with musician and One Tree Hill actor Tyler Hilton to secure airplay and arrange interviews ahead of his upcoming 30 city American tour. The focus tracks from the album and advance dates are enclosed! Support is hugely appreciated!

     
  • V Theater Las Vegas Review - Entertainment Aplenty

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    No matter how many times you’ve visited Vegas, no trip would be complete without taking in a show or two amidst the time you spend eating, gaming, clubbing, sunning and otherwise funing in Sin City.

     
  • Broadway's Best: Celebrating the Music of Ron Abel

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Birdland, the legendary Manhattan Jazz Club, played host for two nights only to celebrate, one of Broadway's best and Hollywood's hottest talents, composer and musical genius Ron Abel.

     
  • Something Rotten Review – Raucous Surprises, a Roaring Good Time

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Something Rotten!, Broadway’s newest musical, is so fun it's hard to say for sure who was having a better time at the St. James Theater the other night, the audience or the actors and musicians on stage.