Antonin Scalia died this weekend. He went hunting that day, went to bed and never woke up. He left behind a large family with many grandchildren. He left behind a Supreme Court sitting at 4-4. He left behind mourning nominal conservatives, cheering progressives and a nation so politically tense that one old man's death becomes a night's discussion and soon to be long media cycle topic. When he is buried, the last of the old lions will rest in peace.
Did you think Scalia's death was going to hit you this hard? He was 79, so this is not early, but it feels like it. That was his personality. No matter what happened with elections, one always thought he would hang on forever, sitting there like a wise old Buddha. That is the wrong picture. You thought he would sit there like Paul Sorvino in Goodfellas, not moving anytime soon, not because he did not want to move, but because he did not have to. Scalia was supposed to be an old geezer dying at 90, still a brilliant mind, ripping centaur rights activists.
The Italian thing was the charm. Scalia was like a mob movie character who made good, like had Michael Corleone stayed in the Ivy league and become Senator Corleone, Governor Corleone, I don't know, just not enough time. Scalia did not hold back. He made it to the Supreme Court but was still a sarcastic son of a bitch. His opinions were labelled sarcastic at orders of magnitude higher than his peers. The man renamed Obamacare "SCOTUScare" when skewering Chief Justice Roberts and the merry band of liberals for all the legal gymnastics they performed to make Obamacare constitutional. You know Scalia was a ball buster.
He had not been progged out. He was still a white ethnic and of the old school. There were rumors he was connected to Opus Dei, which only made the progs quiver with rage at their keyboards more. Read up on Opus Dei, sounds mysterious and awesome. It was not just that, but he was not a Roberts. Not the impartial referee. Not the kind of Harvard Law product who absorbed the bull spewed forth there and left Cambridge needing to be accepted by the right people. Scalia was the archconservative Catholic who said, "Fuck these limp wristed elites, I'll use them". Scalia was not going to pull punches, and never did so in interviews. Just like his opinions, he was going to throw things out there that would cause vapors.
As a formalist and someone raised in a small town where the democratic tradition was still expressed through town hall meetings and votes, Scalia's approach spoke to me. If you loved what America once was, his quote, "A system of govt that makes the people subordinate to a committee of 9 unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy", resonated. Scalia knew the game was rigged and his dissents read even better than his majority opinions. I'll quibble with his Gonzales v. Raich opinion; there was no interstate commerce and it's weed, Antonin. His statements on black science students would get you or I fired, but there he was saying it openly. Read his sarcastic but completely right dissents on the Arizona immigration case, the gay marriage ruling and Obamacare. A little more sarcasm, and he could be found in our sphere for criticizing modern democracy.
Scalia called Justice Brennan the most influential of the 20th Century. Scalia did not have the influence of Brennan, partly due to the cases in question each handled, but Scalia is up there. Brennan would work on his fellow Justices, as did Scalia, and both wrote many opinions. Scalia, despite being approved by the Senate 98-0, was a touchstone for progs as "Jesus Christ, no more Scalias!". They called Justice Alito "Scalito" to demonize him. The Left conjures up phony examples of archconservatives or ultraconservatives, but here was one actual conservative fighter. They knew he was right too, which only infuriated them more.
Scalia's arrival on the court and political scene is timing. Part of it was his behavior, approach and attitude as the Reagan era dawned. He was not just a happy warrior, but a man extremely confident that he was right. His passing matches the death of conservatism as we all come to realize that it does not matter how right you are, just do you have the votes. That is sadly democracy; do you have the votes, and if not, just import more. Scalia was right that the words have to mean what they mean and that the legislation passed should be upheld and not subject to one quirky judge's opinion that moment. It is the battle of formalism or strict constructionism versus "It's 2016!" and "muh feels". He fought for order.
I did not think a politically related figure dying would hit me, but how much of it is Scalia and how much of it is the collection of munchkins left on the Court? Is it that his passing is right now when things undeniably feel sinking for the West through an insane suicide? Scalia knew it did not have to be this way, but he could not swing Roberts compared to the media pressure for that Obamacare decision. He served a nation that did not deserve him. Have you ever read transcripts of questioning by Kagan or Sotomayor for cases? It is comical. They sound exactly the way affirmative action coworkers or your obnoxious lesbian acquaintance trying to play tough sound. Those are the Justices that Weimerica deserves. Not Scalia. Not that sharp son of a bitch.
Thank you Antonin Scalia. Rest in peace you uncompromising lion.