The conversation surrounding Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death has quickly become a topic for political debate. One of the themes that came up numerous times in the GOP debate on Saturday night concerned Justice Scalia’s replacement, and more importantly, who would be replacing the Justice. Before we engage in this dilemma, however, we must first and foremost remember Justice Scalia as honorably as he served us on the Supreme Court of the United States.
Perhaps the most respectable trait of Justice Scalia was his ability to read the Constitution through an Originalist lens, not through a politically motivated one. While Liberals may remember Justice Scalia as a scathing Republican who disregarded human rights, Justice Scalia in reality ruled in ways that protected Americans from an overbearing government.
In Rodriquez v. United States, Justice Scalia ruled against K-9 searches in automobiles without reasonable suspicion, protecting Americans 4th Amendment rights. In Texas v. Johnson, Justice Scalia ruled with the majority striking down a law that prohibited the burning of the American Flag, protecting Americans 1st Amendment right of free speech. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Justice Scalia wrote the dissent not on the basis of whether or not abortion was right or wrong, but on whether or not the Court, and the Constitution, had a place in this debate, protecting Americans from an overbearing Court, writing:
“[But] by foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses… the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish. We should get out of this area, where we have no right to be, and where we do neither ourselves nor the country any good by remaining. We should get out of this area, where we have no right to be, and where we do neither ourselves nor the country any good by remaining.”
Justice Scalia did not rule based on his political agenda, he ruled based on the belief that the Supreme Court Justices had one strict role and one strict role only: to interpret what was written in the Constitution. This coupled with his desire to protect the American citizens from an intrusive government were rare yet invaluable characteristics in those who analyze and determine the Constitutionality of our laws, qualities that will be hard to find again.