Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia
Portrait of Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
In office
September 26, 1986 – February 13, 2016
Nominated byRonald Reagan
Preceded byWilliam Rehnquist
Succeeded byNeil Gorsuch
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
In office
August 17, 1982 – September 26, 1986
Nominated byRonald Reagan
Preceded byRoger Robb
Succeeded byDavid Sentelle
United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel
In office
August 22, 1974 – January 20, 1977
PresidentGerald Ford
Preceded byRoger C. Cramton
Succeeded byJohn Harmon
Personal details
Antonin Gregory Scalia

(1936-03-11)March 11, 1936
Trenton, New Jersey, U.S
DiedFebruary 13, 2016(2016-02-13) (aged 79)
Shafter, Texas, U.S.
Maureen McCarthy (m. 1960)
Children9 (including Eugene)
EducationGeorgetown University (BA)
Harvard University (LLB)
AwardsPresidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).png Presidential Medal of Freedom (2018)
SignatureA cursive, not particularly legible "Antonin Scalia"

Antonin Gregory Scalia (ə/ (About this soundlisten) March 11, 1936 – February 13, 2016)[1][n 1] was an American lawyer, jurist, government official, and academic who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1986 until his death in 2016. He was described as the intellectual anchor for the originalist and textualist position in the Court's conservative wing. For catalyzing an originalist and textualist movement in American law, he has been described as one of the most influential jurists of the twentieth century. Scalia was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018.

Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey. He obtained his law degree from Harvard Law School and spent six years in a Cleveland law firm before becoming a law school professor at the University of Virginia. In the early 1970s, he served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, eventually as an Assistant Attorney General. He spent most of the Carter years teaching at the University of Chicago, where he became one of the first faculty advisers of the fledgling Federalist Society. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed him as judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.In 1986, he was appointed to the Supreme Court by Reagan and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, becoming the Court's first Italian-American justice.

Scalia espoused a conservative jurisprudence and ideology, advocating textualism in statutory interpretation and originalism in constitutional interpretation. He peppered his colleagues with "Ninograms", memos named for his nickname "Nino", seeking to persuade them of his point of view. He was a strong defender of the powers of the executive branch, believing presidential power should be paramount in many areas. He believed that the Constitution permitted the death penalty and did not guarantee the right to abortion or same-sex marriage, and that affirmative action and most other policies that afforded special protected status to minority groups were unconstitutional. These positions earned him a reputation as one of the most conservative justices on the Court. He filed separate opinions in many cases, often castigating the Court's majority using scathing language. Scalia's most significant opinions include his lone dissent in Morrison v. Olson (against the constitutionality of an Independent-Counsel law), his majority opinion in Crawford v. Washington (defining a criminal defendant's confrontation right under the 6th Amendment), and his majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller (holding that the 2nd Amendment guarantees a right to individual handgun ownership).

Early life and education

Antonin Scalia was born on March 11, 1936, in Trenton, New Jersey and was an only child.[9] His father, Salvatore Eugene Scalia (1903–1986), an Italian immigrant from Sommatino, Sicily, graduated from Rutgers University and was a graduate student at Columbia University and clerk at the time of his son's birth.[10] The elder Scalia would become a professor of Romance languages at Brooklyn College, where he was an adherent to the formalist New Criticism school of literary theory.[11] His mother, Catherine Louise (née Panaro) Scalia (1905–1985), was born in Trenton to Italian immigrant parents and worked as an elementary school teacher.[10][12]

In 1939, Scalia and his family moved to the Elmhurst section of Queens, New York, where he attended P.S. 13.[13][14] After completing eighth grade in public school,[15] he obtained an academic scholarship to Xavier High School, a Jesuit military school in Manhattan,[16] where he graduated first in the class of 1953 and served as valedictorian.[17] He later stated that he spent much of his time on schoolwork and admitted, "I was never cool".[18] While a youth, he was also active as a Boy Scout and was part of the Scouts' national honor society, the Order of the Arrow.[19]

Classmate and future New York State official William Stern remembered Scalia in his high school days: "This kid was a conservative when he was 17 years old. An archconservative Catholic. He could have been a member of the Curia. He was the top student in the class. He was brilliant, way above everybody else."[9][20]

In 1953, Scalia enrolled at Georgetown University, where he graduated valedictorian and summa cum laude in 1957 with a Bachelor of Arts in history. While in college, he was a champion collegiate debater in Georgetown's Philodemic Society and a critically praised thespian.[21] He took his junior year abroad at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.[9] Scalia studied law at Harvard Law School, where he was a Notes Editor for the Harvard Law Review.[22] He graduated magna cum laude in 1960, becoming a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University. The fellowship enabled him to travel in Europe during 1960 and 1961.[23]