Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Antonin Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey. His mother, Catherine, was born in the United States; his father, S. Eugenee, in Italy. His father was a Professor of Romance Languages. When Scalia was five years old, his family moved to Queens, New York City, New York. His father was working at Brooklyn College.
He attended high school at Xavier High School, a Catholic military academy in Manhattan. He graduated first in his class and summa cum laude with an A.B. from Georgetown University in 1957. While at Georgetown he also studied at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He went on to study law at Harvard Law School (where he was an editor for the Harvard Law Review). He graduated from there in 1960, the following year he was a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University. The fellowship allowed him to travel throughout Europe during 1960-1961.
He married Maureen McCarthy on September 10, 1960. She was an English major at Radcliffe College. Her father was a physician in Massachusetts. They have nine children – Ann Forrest, Eugene, John Francis, Catherine Elisabeth, Mary Clare, Paul David (now a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington), Matthew, Christopher James, and Margaret Jane.
He began his legal career at Jones, Day, Cockley, and Reavis in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked from 1961-1967. He became a Professor of Law at the University of Virginia in 1967. In 1971, he went into government service. He began as the general counsel, for the Office of Telecommunications Policy , under President Richard Nixon. His major accomplishment here was to formulate a policy for the growth of cable television. From 1972 to 1974, he was the chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States . He served from 1974 to 1977 in the Ford administration as the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department.
He returned to academia in 1977 to the University of Chicago Law School from 1977-1982, and a Visiting Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and Stanford University. He was chairman of the American Bar Association's Section of Administrative Law, 1981-1982, and its Conference of Section Chairmen, 1982-1983.
He was appointed Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1982. Then, in 1986 President Reagan nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Scalia was approved by the Senate in a vote of 98-0 and he took his seat on September 26, 1986. He is the first Italian-American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Scalia is considered the Court's leading proponent of originalism, and also of insisting on a strict literal interpretation of the text of the Constitution of the United States, and of all other statutory laws which are at issue in a particular case. In the latter regard, his "textualist" approach has been compared with that of the late Justice Hugo Black, although Black tends to be regarded as liberal whereas Scalia is almost always described as conservative.
However, Scalia's generally strict approach sometimes brings what may be characterized as "liberal" results. He notably joined the majority without qualification in Texas v. Johnson, which ruled that flag burning was protected speech. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Scalia's dissent was the most restrictive upon the government's power to deal with U.S. citizens alleged to be "unlawful combatants", arguing that legally there was no basis for such a designation and that ordinary criminal prosecution was effectively the only option. Scalia wrote for the majority in Blakely v. Washington, which caused shockwaves throughout both state and federal criminal sentencing systems by ruling that sentences could not be increased because of facts determined by judges rather than juries.
Though Scalia often relies upon tradition and history to discern what the language in laws or constitutional provisions was understood to mean at the time of their passage, he considers legislative history to be useless in determining Congressional intent. This position often puts him at odds with Justice Breyer, who is perhaps the Court's most steadfast proponent of the value of legislative history in legal interpretation.
Beyond his legal philosophy, Scalia is well known for his "prickly" personality, and direct lively questioning during arguments before the court. In his concurring and dissenting opinions, he frequently takes what may be characterized as sarcastic and biting "potshots" at the other justices, quoting them from past opinions to point out what he considers inconsistencies in their reasoning, or accusing them of inventing legal standards out of thin air. He is also famous for restricting the video and audio recording of his speeches given in public.
In April 2004, at a Scalia speech in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, U.S. Marshal Melanie Rube, acting as security detail, confiscated the audio tape of a reporter covering the event. After some controversy over the incident, Scalia apologized and stated he did not order the marshal to do so. He has since amended his policy so that print reporters are now allowed to record his speeches to "promote accurate reporting".
He used to bar the electronic media from recording his appearances, citing "[his] First Amendment right not to speak on the radio or television when I do not wish to do so," but he no longer insists on this either; at least two of his recent speeches have been covered by CSPAN.
- On religious freedom: "I find it a sufficient embarrassment that our Establishment Clause jurisprudence regarding holiday displays has come to require scrutiny more commonly associated with interior decorators than with the judiciary." (dissenting in Lee v. Weisman)
- On legislating from the bench: "Evidently, the governing standard is to be what might be called the unfettered wisdom of a majority of this Court, revealed to an obedient people on a case-by-case basis." (dissenting in Morrison v. Olson)
- On affirmative action: "Those who believe that racial preferences can help to 'even the score' display, and reinforce, a manner of thinking about race that was the source of the injustice and that will, if it endures within our society, be the source of more injustice still." (concurring in Richmond v. Croson Co.)
- On gender equality: "The tradition of having government-funded military schools for men is as well rooted in the traditions of this country as the tradition of sending only men into military combat. The people may decide to change the one tradition, like the other, through democratic processes; but the assertion that either tradition has been unconstitutional through the centuries is not law, but politics-smuggled-into-law." (dissenting in United States v. Virginia )
- On the right to sodomy: "[The Texas anti-sodomy statute] undoubtedly imposes constraints on liberty. So do laws prohibiting prostitution, recreational use of heroin, and, for that matter, working more than 60 hours per week in a bakery. But there is no right to 'liberty' under the Due Process Clause, though today's opinion repeatedly makes that claim. . . . The Fourteenth Amendment expressly allows States to deprive their citizens of 'liberty,' so long as 'due process of law' is provided. . . ." (dissenting in Lawrence v. Texas)
- On abortion: "The notion that the Constitution of the United States, designed, among other things, 'to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, . . . and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,' prohibits the States from simply banning this visibly brutal means of eliminating our half-born posterity is quite simply absurd." (dissenting in Stenberg v. Carhart)
- "My difficulty with Roe v. Wade is a legal rather than a moral one. I do not believe – and no one believed for 200 years – that the Constitution contains a right to abortion. And if a state were to permit abortion on demand, I would and could in good conscience vote against an attempt to invalidate that law, for the same reason that I vote against invalidation of laws that contradict Roe v. Wade; namely, simply because the Constitution gives the federal government and, hence, me no power over the matter." (Speaking engagement, date undetermined).
- On the death penalty: "Today's decision is the pinnacle of our Eighth Amendment death-is-different jurisprudence. Not only does it, like all of that jurisprudence, find no support in the text or history of the Eighth Amendment; it does not even have support in current social attitudes regarding the conditions that render an otherwise just death penalty inappropriate. Seldom has an opinion of this Court rested so obviously upon nothing but the personal views of its members." (dissenting in Atkins v. Virginia)
- On decency laws: "Perhaps the dissenters believe that 'offense to others' ought to be the only reason for restricting nudity in public places generally. . . . The purpose of Indiana's nudity law would be violated, I think, if 60,000 fully consenting adults crowded into the Hoosierdome to display their genitals to one another, even if there were not an offended innocent in the crowd." (concurring in Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. )
- On tax-funded art: "Avant-garde artistes such as respondents remain entirely free to épater les bourgeois [shock the middle classes]; they are merely deprived of the additional satisfaction of having the bourgeoisie taxed to pay for it. It is preposterous to equate the denial of taxpayer subsidy with measures 'aimed at the suppression of dangerous ideas.'" (concurring in National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley)
- On the Pledge of Allegiance: "In Barnette, we held that a public school student could not be compelled to recite the Pledge; we did not even hint that she could not be compelled to observe respectful silence. . . . Logically, that ought to be the next target for the Court's bulldozer." (dissenting in Lee v. Weisman)
- On women as a victim group: "It is hard to consider women a 'discrete and insular minority' unable to employ the 'political processes ordinarily to be relied upon' when they constitute a majority of the electorate. And the suggestion that they are incapable of exerting that political power smacks of the same paternalism that the Court so roundly condemns." (dissenting in United States v. Virginia )
- On judicial arrogance: "It is one of the unhappy incidents of the federal system that a self-righteous Supreme Court, acting on its Members' personal view of what would make a 'more perfect Union' (a criterion only slightly more restrictive than a 'more perfect world') can impose its own favored social and economic dispositions nationwide." (dissenting in United States v. Virginia )
- On the independent counsel law: "How frightening it must be to have your own independent counsel and staff appointed, with nothing else to do but to investigate you until investigation is no longer worthwhile." (dissenting in Morrison v. Olson)
- On stare decisis (adhering to judicial precedent): "The Court's reliance upon stare decisis can best be described as contrived. It insists upon the necessity of adhering not to all of Roe, but only to what it calls the 'central holding.' It seems to me that stare decisis ought to be applied even to the doctrine of stare decisis, and I confess never to have heard of this new, keep-what-you-want-and-throw-away-the-rest version." (dissenting in Planned Parenthood v. Casey)
- On parental rights: "In my view, a right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children is among the 'unalienable Rights' with which the Declaration of Independence proclaims 'all Men . . . are endowed by their Creator.'" (dissenting in Troxer v. Granville)
- On the "living Constitution": "I am left to defend the 'dead' Constitution." (Speech at Marquette University in Milwaukee on March 13, 2001)
- On executing minors: "Bound down, indeed. What a mockery today's opinion makes of Hamilton's expectation, announcing the Court's conclusion that the meaning of our Constitution has changed over the past 15 years—not, mind you, that this Court's decision 15 years ago was wrong, but that the Constitution has changed. The Court reaches this implausible result by purporting to advert, not to the original meaning of the Eighth Amendment, but to "the evolving standards of decency," ante, at 6 (internal quotation marks omitted), of our national society. It then finds, on the flimsiest of grounds, that a national consensus which could not be perceived in our people's laws barely 15 years ago now solidly exists.
- Worse still, the Court says in so many words that what our people's laws say about the issue does not, in the last analysis, matter: "[I]n the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment." Ante, at 9 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation's moral standards—and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures. Because I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, I dissent.
- Words have no meaning if the views of less than 50 percent of death penalty States can constitute a national consensus. Our previous cases have required overwhelming opposition to a challenged practice, generally over a long period of time. (dissenting in Simmons v. Roper)
- "As to the Court's invocation of the Lemon test: Like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again, frightening the little children and school attorneys of Center Moriches Union Free School District. Its most recent burial, only last Term, was, to be sure, not fully six feet under: Our decision in Lee v. Weisman conspicuously avoided using the supposed "test" but also declined the invitation to repudiate it. Over the years, however, no fewer than five of the currently sitting Justices have, in their own opinions, personally driven pencils through the creature's heart (the author of today's opinion repeatedly), and a sixth has joined an opinion doing so.
- The secret of the Lemon test's survival, I think, is that it is so easy to kill. It is there to scare us (and our audience) when we wish it to do so, but we can command it to return to the tomb at will. Such a docile and useful monster is worth keeping around, at least in a somnolent state; one never knows when one might need him." —Justice Scalia's concurring opinion in Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, 508 U.S. 384, 398-99 (1993) (citations omitted).
- "I am persuaded, therefore, that the Maryland procedure is virtually constitutional. Since it is not, however, actually constitutional I would affirm the judgment of the Maryland Court of Appeals reversing the judgment of conviction." Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836 (1990) (dissenting)
- "The Court's statement that it is 'tempting' to acknowledge the authoritativeness of tradition in order to 'curb the discretion of federal judges" is, of course, rhetoric rather than reality; no government official is 'tempted' to place restraints upon his own freedom of action, which is why Lord Acton did not say 'Power tends to purify.' The Court's temptation is in the quite opposite and more natural direction -- towards systematically eliminating checks upon its own power; and it succumbs." Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992)
- "What today's decision will stand for, whether the Justices can bring themselves to say it or not, is the power of the Supreme Court to write a prophylactic, extraconstitutional Constitution, binding on Congress and the States." —Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion in Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428, 461 (2000).
- "Many think it not only inevitable but entirely proper that liberty give way to security in times of national crisis--that, at the extremes of military exigency, inter arma silent leges. Whatever the general merits of the view that war silences law or modulates its voice, that view has no place in the interpretation and application of a Constitution designed precisely to confront war and, in a manner that accords with democratic principles, to accommodate it." Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004)
- Supreme court official bio (PDF)
- Ring, Kevin A., Scalia Dissents : Writings of the Supreme Court's Wittiest, Most Outspoken Justice, (Regnery Publishing, Inc., November 25, 2004) ISBN: 0895260530
- Ninowatch — Bringing You All Things Scalia — law librarian-maintained weblog
- Cult of Scalia — fan site
- LookSmart — Antonin Scalia directory category
- Open Directory Project — Antonin Scalia directory category
- Yahoo — Antonin Scalia directory category
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