Tonight, to my shock and surprise, I learned a few moments ago of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The man was brilliant to many, frustrating to others, and loveable and sarcastic to all. Whatever his opinions made you think, the friendship we all saw between him and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were of the highest value to many in politics, the idea that two people who couldn’t disagree more could be so great in friendship and humanity is something that I think all of us would like to have.
Now the question might be, why Shadows of a Colossus, how does this deal with my father? My father greatly respected Reagan’s Conservative Justice, the strict Constitutionalist Scalia. Several times my dad would read his legal arguments, we would laugh, and then we would discuss the meaning of that argument. One of my favorite arguments he gave is in District of Columbia vs. Heller, in which Scalia stated:
Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, 849 (1997), and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U. S. 27, 35–36 (2001), the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.
My father admired Scalia’s impact on law and often would joke that should I ever make my way into a JD on Constitutional Law, I too could become a Scalia of my generation. The President gave a statement earlier, which I thought was tactful, respectful, and above all, non-partisan. In this solemn hour of burying a great man upon which many legal matters of our Republic fell, we should not seek to politicize his death one way or the other. He was a Conservative through and through in life, but he was a believer in the Republic and the right of the population to vote something into existence.
In this dark hour for Conservatism, where there are many questioning what the path we should take, or what we should do, we should open our eyes to the unifying action his death has given. Whether Establishment or Outsider, Libertarian or Social Conservative, Populist or Political Elite, many conservatives are showing honor and dignity in this hour. We should not let his death be in vain or cause us to act in manners not befitting his attitude or deeds in life. As another shadow of Reagan passes on, let us reinvigorate our Conservative minds back to Reagan’s 11th Commandment: “Thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican.”
Let those who seek power in greed or idiocy stain their hands in dishonor, but our future leader needs to be someone who avoids the quagmire. I can only hope that the candidates in this cycle for the Republicans hits that bar at all close.
And for my leftists and left-leaning friends, or for my confused and seeking centrist friends, how should you react to the passing of this man? He was a stalwart holder for originalism, meaning that we read the Constitution literally for its intent first and then evolve those exact words based on how their definitions, as individual words or phrases, have changed. This meant he wound up not with whoever was conservative, but with whoever he thought argued for the states and often wrote for his own opinion, giving further arguments for or against the rulings.
If you don’t believe me that you should be mourning the man, here’s Slate on the significance of his votes.
When I was younger and angrier, I expected to cheer Scalia’s retirement, elated by his absence from the court. Today, I only feel overwhelming sadness. In my time covering the court, I’ve grown to admire the gruff, cantankerous man who lobs bombs and quips at nervous lawyers and bemused justices alike. Scalia was the justice you either loved or hated, relentlessly opinionated, representative of everything that was right or wrong with the Supreme Court. He was witty, unpredictable, caustic, indignant, and brilliant. He was an American original. And after the partisan howling over his legacy fades, that is how his country will remember him.
Tonight, I mourn the loss a Titan of the Constitution, and a man who my father respected and admired in every since a man can respect another man. And while it reminds me of my father and the loss of him, especially on my mother’s birthday. It also reminds me that despite my father’s absence, and even with the absence of Antonin Scalia, the movement of Conservatism must and will go on. Not because we want to or we can get past it, but we must, for the sake of this Republic. And while maybe my non-conservative friends may feel indifferent or agitated by remarks, the fact is should RBG pass away, you shall see the same from me. Great political and judicial minds are disappearing, there can only be sadness, there can be no political joy or satisfaction in this moment. To have that is to lose your humanity, to engage in bigotry, wishing someone dead or gone simply because they do not conform to your tribe. This is why I have never wished ill for our President, for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, and like my father, I WILL NEVER do that. Life is too short to let differences divide and segregate the tribe of our great people and nation.
This is true Patriotism, to love your neighbors, for their flaws and gifts, and to see each one as a necessary instrument for the furthering and productiveness of our culture. Not as tools or machines, but as paintings of creation that in their moment, personify greatness and the quality of humanity we all want in all of us. Whether Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or anyone else, all I can feel is sadness in the loss of such great knowledge.