ATRA Ally Pens Tribute to Justice Scalia
Manhattan Institute senior fellow and ATRA ally James Copland has written a tribute to the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday at the age of 79.
Scalia’s philosophy of law was that words matter. In interpreting statutes, that meant that judges should look to the words legislators enacted rather than trying to discern their intent. If ambiguities arise, as they inevitably will, judges should turn to neutral principles—time-honored judicial canons—to figure them out. . . . In interpreting the Constitution, Scalia’s originalism meant that judges should look to the document’s text and try to apply its often open-ended language according to their original public meaning—what the words meant at the time the provisions were adopted. At its root, this theory holds that unelected judges should not overturn the will of elected representatives absent a clear constitutional mandate.
In addition to remarking on the brilliance of Scalia’s writing, “which is among the best in the Court’s history,” Copland calls his impact on constitutional jurisprudence “hard to overstate.”
Much as the three-decade period of liberal constitutional expansion from the mid-fifties through the mid-eighties—with the Warren and Burger Courts—were dominated by the brilliant civil libertarian [William] Brennan, so Scalia was the driving force behind the last three decades’ Rehnquist and Roberts Courts.
Read the full tribute to Justice Scalia here.