The conservative-leaning, Reagan appointed Justice was famous for his dry, blistering dissents and firm commitment to Constitutional originalism. Scalia, who was educated at Harvard Law and was a practicing Roman Catholic, did not mince words on the following hot-button issues:
On Constitutional Flexibility
That’s the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break. But you would have to be an idiot to believe that. The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says some things and doesn’t say other things.
On Christians vs. Intellectuals
God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and He has not been disappointed. Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society. We are fools for Christ’s sake. We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world. If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.
On the court ruling on Gay Marriage
To allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.
If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.
On the existence of the Devil
You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My god! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the devil! Most of mankind has believed in the devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the devil. SOURCE: NY Mag
On Judicial Overreach
It is difficult to maintain the illusion that we are interpreting a Constitution, rather than inventing one, when we amend its provisions so breezily.
On the Bill of Rights & popular opinion
A Bill of Rights that means what the majority wants it to mean is worthless.
[note: the British Bill of Rights was written against the unlimited authority of the Crown. The American Bill of Rights was written against the unlimited authority of the government.]
On Evolution vs. Creationism
The body of scientific evidence supporting creation science is as strong as that supporting evolution. In fact, it may be stronger…. The evidence for evolution is far less compelling than we have been led to believe. Evolution is not a scientific “fact,” since it cannot actually be observed in a laboratory. Rather, evolution is merely a scientific theory or “guess.”… It is a very bad guess at that. The scientific problems with evolution are so serious that it could accurately be termed a “myth.”
On Affirmative Action
To pursue the concept of racial entitlement–even for the most admirable and benign of purposes–is to reinforce and preserve for future mischief the way of thinking that produced race slavery, race privilege and race hatred. In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American.
On the 2nd Amendment
Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.
On politically appointed Judges
As long as judges tinker with the Constitution to ‘do what the people want,’ instead of what the document actually commands, politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically.
On The Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare
Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.
For in order for capitalism to work — in order for it to produce a good and a stable society — the traditional Christian virtues are essential.
Bear in mind that brains and learning, like muscle and physical skill, are articles of commerce. They are bought and sold. You can hire them by the year or by the hour. The only thing in the world not for sale is character.
Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing their demands on society.
On raising children
A right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children is among the ‘unalienable Rights’ with which the Declaration of Independence proclaims ‘all men . . . are endowed by their Creator.
On being a good Judge
If you’re going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re not always going to like the conclusions you reach. If you like them all the time, you’re probably doing something wrong.
On Separation of Church and State and the Pledge of Allegiance
I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true, [namely]: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over non-religion… We do Him [God] honor in our pledge of allegiance, in all our public ceremonies. There’s nothing wrong with that. It is in the best of American traditions, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. I think we have to fight that tendency of the secularists to impose it on all of us through the Constitution.
On this day, when we’re celebrating our constitutional heritage, I urge you to be faithful to that heritage – to impose on our fellow citizens only the restrictions that are there in the Constitution, not invent new ones, not to invent a right because it’s a good idea.
On the Supreme Court
Day by day, case by case, the Supreme Court is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize.
19 Remarkable Quotes by Justice Antonin Scalia in PDF format