By: Jonathan Hogue ~Opinions & Editorials Editor~
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead Saturday in his room at a hunting lodge. Justice Scalia was the Court’s leading conservative who often brought controversy with his fiery and eloquent opinions from the bench.
Scalia was the quintessential conservative. Before his appointment to the high court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, Scalia spent his political career working for Republican leaders who helped shape his conservative principles.
In the 1970s, Scalia earned two appointments by Republican President Richard Nixon as a member of his personal counsel and as Assistant Attorney General of the U.S., according to biography. com. In the 1980s, President Reagan appointed Scalia to the Court of Appeals and later promoted him to the nation’s highest court after Chief Justice Warren Burger’s retirement.
While on the Court, Scalia spent more than a quarter century shaping the judicial branch through his scholarly interpretation of the issues. Viewed as a Constitutional originalist (someone who interprets the U.S. Constitution the way it meant to those who ratified it) he artfully handed down opinions on issues like the Affordable Care Act, presidential appointments and capital punishment.
On the campaign trail, numerous Republican Presidential contenders shared stories about the Justice and how his influence on the bench will be missed. Many conservatives were angered by Justice Kennedy’s decision to be in favor of same-sex marriage or Chief Justice Roberts’s ruling in favor of the Affordable Care Act.
In a public statement, former President George W. Bush (R) shared his views of the late justice.
“Scalia brought intellect, good judgment, and wit to the bench, and he will be missed by his colleagues and our country,” Bush said while remembering the 79-year-old justice.
For political pundits, Scalia’s vacancy offers new fuel for the presidential race. Congressional Republicans ask that President Obama wait 11 months until a new president is sworn in and can nominate a justice. Democrats have argued the president must fulfill his constitutional obligation and nominate a successor.
Numerous news outlets have called for politics to be left aside while the nation remembers Justice Scalia.
In an interview with NBC News, friend and fellow Justice Ruth Ginsburg tried to show the softer side of Scalia.
“(We) disagreed now and then … [but] we were best buddies,” Ginsburg said on her memories of Scalia.
Only time will tell how Washington reacts to Scalia’s vacancy as the nation mourns the loss of a monumental figure in the Supreme Court’s recent history.