|The Funeral Mass of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, held on February 20, 2016. Photo by Zach Gibson, The New York Times, fair use claimed, full citation posted below in the sources.|
"The cemetery is full of irreplaceable people." Charles de Gaulle
Today, de Gaulle's statement was perhaps never more true. Whether one admired or strongly disliked Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, there is no denying that he was one of a kind.
He entered the Supreme Court as in a minority of one in his "originalist" view of the Constitution. Yet that changed over time. I put the title to this blog post in quotes because it comes from today's New York Times article. I have a link to it below in the credits and it is worth a read. The authors are Peter Baker and Gardiner Harris. (Thank you both for this excellent news article.)
As I read this line, it struck something in me, "Through sheer force of will." Justice Scalia believed what he believed. From what I hear, he was not someone to be taken lightly in oral argument. While Justice Thomas is well known for not asking questions, Justice Scalia was the opposite. He relished oral argument. It was as if he was a guest at a wedding who walked down the aisle just before the bride. OK, that might be a bit much, but it is true that he loved the Supreme Court and being a part of it...a HUGE part of it.
It is worth noting that President Bush (43) appointed John Roberts to be Chief Justice. It was a brilliant political move, ensuring for at least several decades (barring health concerns) he would be on the Court. (We are talking lifetime appointments, after all.) I thought that Justice Scalia deserved the gig. After all, if a Republican President is appointing not just a Justice, but the Chief Justice, it should have been Justice Scalia. Yet the practicalities of politics got in the way. Such is life.
In retrospect, it likely did not matter. Justice Scalia had, by that point, achieved a degree of celebrity that transcended any additional status offered by the title of Chief Justice. If anything, it might have diluted his "brand" as the original "originalist." Besides, there would have been more paperwork with the other job.
There is no doubt, Justice Scalia changed the Supreme Court. His opinions were biting, angry, caustic, full of great writing and at times, historic. The Heller decision is perhaps his most famous work. I have a link to the case, (Wikipedia, with links to links) in the credits below. However, I also find his dissents to be meaningful, perhaps more so, to who this man was who sat on the bench for three decades.
I sum him up this way: He did not care what people thought of him, at least for his professional life. Yet on personal levels, he did care, and greatly so, about those around him. His friendship with Ruth Bader Ginsberg is significant not just because of its genuineness, but because it was so real despite of their remarkably different judicial philosophies.
Justice Scalia has passed on. I a convinced he is in Heaven and has been embroiled in discussions and debates with the Founders about the issues he so championed while on Earth. I understand there are those of you who were not a fan of his. That' fine, it's your right as a citizen. Yet Justice Scalia is due our respect for how seriously he took his job and advocated for his position. We can all, in our own ways and lives, be like him. You don't need a robe, just the belief you are right. (Now, I'd suggest being damn sure you know the why behind you think you are right, if only for your own purposes, but that's just me.) Who knows, whatever your issue, your cause, your passion, you might just convince others, perhaps only a few, more more than one is enough, to come over to your side.
If that occurs, then by through your own force of will, you can influence events that matters to you. If so, then you can inspire others to carry forth your vision. By doing so, you will have disproved de Galle, that the cemetery is not full of irreplaceable people. Instead, they are still walking the Earth, thanks to you.
As I looked at the photos of Justice Scalia's funeral, I saw many people who were similarly motivated by him to carry forth his vision. And only in America can we share something in common with a Supreme Court Justice in influencing others.
That's a force of will I like to think the Framers would gladly applaud.
Be well my friends,
The New York Times article link, including photo credit to Zach Gibson, http://nyti.ms/1oA8oHv