Monday, February 15, 2016

Antonin Scalia, R.I.P.

First, the quote of the day, from, amended only slightly by your blogger:

"If you read anyone who treats [the late, great] Antonin Scalia as an ideological conservative scoring points for his 'side' of a power struggle, you can be sure you are reading someone who doesn't know what [he or she] is talking about."

Next, what Justice Scalia accomplished, in a nutshell from the same site:

"It's not hyperbole to acknowledge that Antonin Scalia sparked a renaissance in Constitutional law. Before Scalia, the legal philosophy en vogue was viewing the Constitution as a "living, breathing document" which could be adapted whenever judges saw fit.

Justice Scalia argued instead for originalism, which meant judges must restrain themselves and interpret the Constitution by looking to what was actually written and intended, not what we want it to mean today. While Scalia didn't secure a majority of justices to agree with him in every case, his understanding of the Constitution led to a renewed defense of our most cherished rights, judicial restraint, limited government, including religious liberty."

And, finally, a few words from Scalia himself.

In June, 2010, he delivered a commencement address for Langley High School in Virginia because his granddaughter was graduating from there. This is part of what he said:

“[A] platitude I want discuss comes in many flavors. It can be variously delivered as, ‘Follow your star,’ or ‘Never compromise your principles.’ Or, quoting Polonius in ‘Hamlet’ — who people forget was supposed to be an idiot — ‘To thine ownself be true.’ Now this can be very good or very bad advice. Indeed, follow your star if you want to head north and it’s the North Star. But if you want to head north and it’s Mars, you had better follow somebody else’s star.

Indeed, never compromise your principles. Unless, of course, your principles are Adolf Hitler’s. In which case, you would be well advised to compromise your principles, as much as you can...

I am here to tell you that it is much less important how committed you are, than what you are committed to. If I had to choose, I would always take the less dynamic, indeed even the lazy person who knows what’s right, than the zealot in the cause of error. He may move slower, but he’s headed in the right direction.

Movement is not necessarily progress. More important than your obligation to follow your conscience, or at least prior to it, is your obligation to form your conscience correctly. Nobody — remember this — neither Hitler, nor Lenin, nor any despot you could name, ever came forward with a proposal that read, ‘Now, let’s create a really oppressive and evil society.’ Hitler said, ‘Let’s take the means necessary to restore our national pride and civic order.’ And Lenin said, ‘Let’s take the means necessary to assure a fair distribution of the goods of the world.’

In short, it is your responsibility...not just to be zealous in the pursuit of your ideals, but to be sure that your ideals are the right ones.”

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