Legal Masterminds: Current U.S. Supreme Court Justices

In the interest of increasing awareness about the U.S. Supreme Court, I will be dedicating a series of legal mastermind profiles to each of the current justices serving, in the order that they were appointed to the court. Justice Antonin Scalia was appointed in 1986 by President Reagan, and has been on the court the longest of the current justices, which makes him the Senior Associate Justice.

Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice

Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice

Antonin Gregory Scalia (Born March 11, 1936)

Antonin Scalia attended Georgetown University as an undergraduate, and later Harvard Law School. In addition to working at a private law firm, he has also served as a law school professor and an assistant Attorney General before becoming a judge.

Justice Scalia was nominated to replace the opening on the Court left by Rehnquist's elevation to Chief Justice. Perhaps surprisingly, it was Rehnquist who faced more careful scrutiny and intense questioning, whereas Scalia faced no opposition, and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. He was also the first ever Italian-American Supreme Court nominee.

Constitutional Originalism

Scalia is a well-known Constitutional Originalist. This means that he believes the Constitution should be interpreted as it would have been when it was originally written. Subsequent amendments are to be interpreted according to the meaning at the time of ratification. Scalia is also a textualist, meaning that he believes that a statute's words should be given their ordinary meaning.

Scalia is also known for his unwavering adherence to his approach, and his witty turn of phrase. Rather than believing that the meaning of the Constitution is constantly changing, he believes that its meaning is static, and people should make use of the legislative process or amend the Constitution according to whatever rights they are trying to protect.

For example, in his dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, he wrote:

"The States may, if they wish, permit abortion on demand, but the Constitution does not require them to do so. The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting."

In addition to being the most senior Justice on the Court, he is also the second oldest, behind Justice Ginsburg. The two are rumored to be good friends, despite their disparate views of the Constitution.