The reactions to the unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia are still coming in. Conservatives (and some liberals) hailed him as a great justice, a keen mind, and one of the court’s finest writers. Other liberals…
Eh. Let’s get to the sweet before the bitter.
Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz:
Former Texas Attorney General and current Texas Governor Greg Abbott:
Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia. A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history.
As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism. And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. He was an unrelenting defender of religious liberty, free speech, federalism, the constitutional separation of powers, and private property rights. All liberty-loving Americans should be in mourning.
Justice Scalia’s three decades on the Court was one of President Reagan’s most consequential legacies. Our prayers are with his beloved wife Maureen, their nine children, and their precious grandchildren.”
Instapundit and law professor Glenn Reynolds: “As we remember Justice Scalia’s time, let us remember that every age’s smug certainties come to an end eventually and that the dissents of Supreme Court Justices often turn out to be prophetic.”
Powerline’s John Hinderaker: “Scalia was a towering intellect and a great justice.”
Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution. His fierce loyalty to the Constitution set an unmatched example, not just for judges and lawyers, but for all Americans. We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.
He was important because of his intellectual influence. There were and are many legal theories and schools of constitutional interpretation within the world of American conservatism. But Scalia’s combination of brilliance, eloquence and good timing — he was appointed to the court in 1986, a handful of years after the Federalist Society was founded, and with it the conservative legal movement as we know it — ensured that his ideas, originalism in constitutional law and textualism in statutory interpretation, would set the agenda for a serious judicial conservatism and define the worldview that any “living Constitution” liberal needed to wrestle with in order to justify his own position.
This intellectual importance was compounded by the way he strained to be consistent, to rule based on principle rather than on his partisan biases — which made him stand out in an age when justices often seem as purely partisan as any other office holder. Of course there were plenty of cases (“Bush v. Gore!” a liberal might interject here) in which those biases probably did shape the way he ruled. But from flag burning to the rights of the accused to wartime detention, Scalia had a long record of putting originalist principle above a partisan conservatism. And this, too, set an example for his fellow conservatives: The fact that today the court’s right-leaning bloc has far more interesting internal disagreements than the often lock-step-voting liberal wing is itself a testament to the premium its leading intellectual light placed on philosophical rigor and integrity.
Even honest liberals who disagree with Scalia’s politics praised the keenness of his mind and prose:
Jeet Heer in The New Republic from last year: “Antonin Scalia Is the Supreme Court’s Greatest Writer.”
Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker:
And noted liberal legal scholar Alan Derschowitz priased Scalia: “Love him or hate him, every American should appreciate his contribution to U.S. law. The word unique is often overused, but they broke the mold when they created Justice Scalia. There will never be another like him. I will miss him both personally and professionally.”
In his most significant decision for the court’s majority, District of Columbia v. Heller, in 2008, Scalia transformed the understanding of the Second Amendment. Reversing a century of interpretation of the right to bear arms, he announced that individuals have a constitutional right to possess handguns for personal protection. The Heller decision was so influential that even President Obama, whose politics differ deeply from Scalia’s, has embraced the view that the Second Amendment gives individuals a constitutional right to bear arms.
Meanwhile, other liberals have reacted with unbridled joy:
(Hat tip: Breitbart.)
Scroll through these Salon comments to see numerous liberals openly calling for Clarence Thomas’ death.
Twitchy has more examples of liberals openly wishing for Clarence Thomas’ death.
A reminder, yet again, that conservatives regard liberals as wrong, but many liberals regard conservatives as not just wrong but evil, and feel no absolutely no remorse in openly celebrating the death of a great man for the crime of daring to hold non-liberal thoughts.