Thomas Lucente: Scalia was one of greatest jurists to ever sit on the bench


By Thomas Lucente - [email protected]



America lost a great man and one of the greatest jurists to ever sit on the Supreme Court when Justice Antonin Scalia died Feb. 13.

Of course, boorish leftists responded in a disgusting fashion with many sending out tweets and taking to other social media forums to cheer his death and otherwise to express joy, hatred and mocking.

This was a U.S. Supreme Court justice, a man who gave the bulk of his life to the service of his country. A man who believed in the rule of law. A man who honestly stood for something. He was also a husband, father and grandfather. And cheering his death simply because you disagree with some of his politics is beyond the pale.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

The shame goes all the way to the White House, where President Barack Obama has chosen not to attend Scalia’s funeral without explanation.

I am writing this before the funeral and you are reading it after the funeral so I hope he came to his senses and attended the Mass, but, given his record during the last seven years, I predict he did not.

What is funny is that most of the people cheering his death have clearly never read a Scalia opinion or have even the foggiest understanding of Scalia’s views beyond the conservative label the media use in describing him.

As a law student my books were filled with Scalia opinions. They were not in there because they were fun to read, which they often were (or at least as fun as a legal opinion can be).

So many of his opinions appear in law school textbooks because Scalia was perhaps the best writer to sit on the bench and had one of the finest legal minds in U.S. history. His opinions could clarify the legal questions at issue better than any other justice on the bench. Students will be reading his opinions for centuries.

And the conservative label is perhaps not wholly warranted. While he was clearly a conservative when it came to politics, his legal opinions often transcended the left-right divide. After all, laws are neither inherently liberal nor conservative.

Many of Scalia’s opinions should be heralded by leftists.

Scalia was a defender of the First Amendment.

In 1989 Scalia was the decisive vote in Texas v. Johnson striking down as unconstitutional laws that banned flag desecration. After the ruling, the Congress passed a federal law banning flag desecration and the same five justices shot that law down in United States v. Eichman.

Then in 2011 in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, Scalia voted with the majority in granting free speech protection to violent video games. Justice Clarence Thomas, who is the most conservative member of the Supreme Court, wrote the dissent in that case.

Scalia was also a staunch supporter of the Fourth Amendment.

In Maryland v. King (2013) Scalia sided with the leftists on the court to vote against DNA collection of convicts. Unfortunately, one of the left-leaning justices also switched sides and the court ruled that states could collect DNA from convicts.

As Scalia wrote in his dissent: “The Fourth Amendment forbids searching a person for evidence of a crime when there is no basis for believing the person is guilty of the crime or is in possession of incriminating evidence. That prohibition is categorical and without exception; it lies at the very heart of the Fourth Amendment.”

In many other cases, Scalia sided with expanding the protections offered under the Fourth Amendment’s proscription against unreasonable searches and seizures, which is often under attack by government agents waging their war on drugs.

In Kyllo v. United States (2001), he voted against the use of thermal imaging without a warrant; in United States v. Jones (2012), Scalia voted against the use of GPS devices to track a motor vehicle without a warrant; and in Florida v. Jardines (2013), Scalia voted to overturn a conviction when police brought a drug dog onto a man’s porch to indicate drug activity inside.

Leftists, if they would actually read his opinions and see how often he sided in favor of civil liberties, might actually find they have more in common with Scalia than they thought.

He will be missed. Sorely.

http://galioninquirer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_LUCENTE-Thomas-Web-1-2.jpg

By Thomas Lucente

[email protected]

Thomas J. Lucente Jr. is an Ohio attorney and night editor of The Lima News. Reach him by telephone at 567-242-0398, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @ThomasLucente.

comments powered by Disqus