The first Italian American justice on the Supreme Court, Scalia has been committed to conservative values and has advocated constitutional interpretations based on textual analysis and original understanding. He has endeavored to constrain congressional delegation of power to the federal bureaucracy and to promote moral order through restrictions on expressive liberties, criminal defendants’ rights, and affirmative action programs.
The only child of S. Eugene Scalia, a professor of Latin-based languages, and Catherine Panaro Scalia, an elementary teacher, Antonin Scalia attended public schools in Queens, New York, and a Jesuit preparatory school. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Georgetown University in 1957 and his law degree at Harvard Law School in 1960. After several years of practice with an elite law firm in Cleveland, Ohio, he joined the faculty of the law school at the University of Virginia.
In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon
Scalia became a scholar in residence at the American Enterprise Institute in early 1977, and later that year he became a law professor at the University of Chicago. While at Chicago, he served as chairman of the American Bar Association
In July, 1982, President Ronald Reagan
When President Reagan
As an associate justice, Scalia soon voiced a distinctive jurisprudence. A strong critic of the notion of a “living Constitution,” he argued that constitutional cases should be decided according to a literal reading of the constitutional
When dealing with separation of powers, Scalia advanced a four-part perspective. First, he argued that judges, when interpreting legislation, should respect the plain meaning of statutes, uphold judicial precedents, and use the doctrine of standing to limit interest group challenges to legislation. Second, he sought expansive presidential direction of federal agencies’ policy making. Third, he tried to ensure that agencies not construe statutory language to expand their discretion. Finally, as in his dissenting opinion in Morrison v. Olson
Although Scalia respected the principle of federal supremacy, his opinions supported the Rehnquist Court’s effort to augment the policy-making powers of state governments. Especially he sought to reformulate “dormant” or “negative” commerce clause doctrine and constrain federal prohibition of state policy making and, in Printz v. United States
In matters of criminal procedures, Scalia has consistently voted against defendant rights
Scalia has taken complex positions on First Amendment
Scalia has advocated a “color-blind” approach to racial equality and opposed affirmative
Scalia unequivocally opposed the development of broad private rights (or
Critics have accused Scalia of promoting a conservative political agenda. This was particularly true in regard to his part in the controversial case of Bush v. Gore
Even Scalia’s most bitter critics concede his intelligence and verbal skills. He has enjoyed public debates and has not hesitated to use abrasive language when expressing disagreements. Sometimes he has taken public positions that have detracted from a sense of judicial neutrality. However, he has also often made court-watching more enjoyable than it might otherwise be.
Brisbin, Richard A., Jr. Justice Antonin Scalia and the Conservative Revival. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. Hensley, Thomas R. The Rehnquist Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2006. Rossum, Ralph A. Antonin Scalia’s Jurisprudence: Text and Tradition. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006. Scalia, Antonin. A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law--An Essay. Edited by Amy Gutmann. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1997. Scalia, Antonin. “The Rule of Law as a Law of Rules.” University of Chicago Law Review 56 (1989): 1175-1188. Staab, James Brian. The Political Thought of Justice Antonin Scalia: A Hamiltonian on the Supreme Court. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006. Tushnet, Mark. A Court Divided: The Rehnquist Court and the Future of Constitutional Law. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005.
Bush v. Gore
Commerce, regulation of
Right to die
Equal protection clause
Gay and lesbian rights
Lawrence v. Texas
Printz v. United States
Rehnquist, William H.
Separation of powers