Antonin Scalia

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Antonin Scalia
Antonin Scalia.jpg
Court Information:
Supreme Court of the United States
Title:   Associate justice
Appointed by:   Ronald Reagan
Approval vote:   98-0
Active:   9/26/1986-Present
Preceded by:   William Rehnquist
Past post:   District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Past term:   1982-1986
Personal History
Born:   3/11/1936
Hometown:   Trenton, New Jersey
Undergraduate:   Georgetown University, 1957
Law School:   Harvard Law School, 1960

Antonin Gregory Scalia is the 103rd associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Republican President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the court on June 24, 1986. Scalia is the first Italian-American to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.[1][2][3]

Judicial philosophy

Scalia is considered to be a core member of the conservative wing of the Court. He is a vigorous proponent of textualism in statutory interpretation, an originalist in constitutional interpretation and a passionate critic of the idea of a "living Constitution." In an interview with New York Magazine, Scalia commented on the growth of originalism:

For example, I truly thought I’d never see an originalist on the faculty of Harvard Law School. You know, everybody copies Harvard—that’s the big ship. There are now three originalists on the faculty, and I think I heard that they’ve just hired, or are considering hiring, a fourth. I mean, that’s amazing to me. Elena Kagan did that, and the reason she did it is that you want to have on your faculty representatives of all responsible points of view.[4][5][6]

Scalia's strict practice of textualism and originalism earned criticism from outspoken judge Richard Posner. Posner used an anecdote to point out what he perceived as the flaw of strict textualism:

Scalia and Garner reject (before they later accept) Easterbrook’s warning. Does an ordinance that says that “no person may bring a vehicle into the park” apply to an ambulance that enters the park to save a person’s life? For Scalia and Garner, the answer is yes. After all, an ambulance is a vehicle—any dictionary will tell you that. If the authors of the ordinance wanted to make an exception for ambulances, they should have said so... One senses a certain defensiveness in Justice Scalia’s advocacy of a textualism so rigid as to make the ambulance driver a lawbreaker. He is one of the most politically conservative Supreme Court justices of the modern era and the intellectual leader of the conservative justices on the Supreme Court.[7][6]

Scalia coauthor Bryan A. Garner, in response to Posner's critique, wrote that Posner misrepresented their position:

My coauthor and I consistently maintain that ambulances are covered by the prohibition but also explain that “[s]ome of the imperfections [in a statute] can be cured or mitigated by doctrines and devices other than the mauling of text . . . . For example, it may well be that the undeniable exclusion of ambulances by the text of the ordinance is countermanded by an ordinance or court‑made rule exempting emergency vehicles from traffic rules.”[8][6]

Early life and education

Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey. A practicing Roman Catholic, he attended Xavier High School, a Jesuit school in Manhattan. Scalia graduated first in his class and summa cum laude with a B.A. from Georgetown College (Georgetown University) in 1957. While at Georgetown, he also studied at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Scalia went on to study law at Harvard, where he was a notes editor for the Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law with an LL.B. in 1960, becoming a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University the following year. The fellowship allowed him to travel throughout Europe during 1960 and 1961.[9][10]

Professional career

  • 1986-Present: Justice, Supreme Court of the United States
  • 1982-1986: Justice, District of Columbia Court of Appeals
  • 1982-1983: Chairman, American Bar Association Conference of Section Chairmen
  • 1981-1982: Chairman, American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law
  • 1977-1982: Professor, University of Chicago Law School
  • 1974-1977: Assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel
  • 1971-1972: General counsel, Office of Telecommunications Policy
  • 1972-1974: Chairman, Administrative Conference of the United States
  • 1967-1971: Professor of Law, University of Virginia
  • 1961-1967: Attorney, Jones, Day, Cockley and Reavis

Scalia began his legal career at Jones, Day, Cockley and Reavis in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked from 1961 to 1967. In 1967, he became a professor of law at the University of Virginia. He entered public service in 1971, working as the general counsel for the Office of Telecommunications Policy under President Richard Nixon. One of his principal assignments was to formulate federal policy for the growth of cable television. From 1972 to 1974, Scalia was the chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States. Following that, Scalia served from 1974 to 1977 in the Ford administration as the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.

Following President Ford's defeat by Jimmy Carter, Scalia returned to academia, first at the University of Chicago Law School from 1977 to 1982. He went on to serve as visiting professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center and teach at Stanford University. He also taught as a visiting professor in the Tulane University Law School summer abroad program. Scalia was chairman of the American Bar Association's Section of Administrative Law in 1981 and 1982 and its Conference of Section Chairmen in 1982 and 1983.[11]

Supreme Court of the United States

Opinions by year

Below is a table of the number of opinions, concurrences, dissents and splits (concur in part, dissent in part) that Scalia has issued since joining the Supreme Court according to the data on Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute.[12]

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Opinions 1 12 15 11 14 10 13 13 10 10 10 10 12 8 11 7 9 8 9 8 9 8 7 11 7 10 0 0
Concurrences 0 19 14 21 16 21 15 15 18 10 8 11 11 6 9 12 7 8 9 9 6 7 6 6 15 11 0 0
Dissents 1 10 10 8 10 12 13 1 6 5 13 6 12 5 8 9 10 11 10 5 4 8 5 3 6 5 2 0
Concur in part, Dissent in part 0 2 2 3 2 2 5 1 1 1 0 3 1 2 1 1 0 3 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 0
Totals 2 43 41 43 42 45 36 21 35 26 31 30 26 21 29 29 26 30 29 23 20 24 18 21 28 27 2 0

Notable cases

Behavior on the court

A study done by the Social Science Research Network found Scalia to elicit more laughs, by far, than any other justice, therefore earning him the title of funniest justice on the Supreme Court. After listening to 79 oral arguments from the 2011 and 2012 terms, the Social Science Research Network reported 343 instances of laughter, of which Scalia accounted for 136.[15]

Nomination and confirmation

Nomination Tracker
 Candidate:Antonin Scalia
 Court:Supreme Court of the United States
 Progress:Confirmed 85 days after nomination.
ApprovedANominated:June 24, 1986
ApprovedAABA Rating:Unanimously Well Qualified
ApprovedAHearing:August 5-6, 1986
ApprovedAHearing Transcript:Hearing Transcript
ApprovedAReported:August 14, 1986 
ApprovedAConfirmed:September 17, 1986
 Vote: 98-0

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Scalia to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Four years later, in 1986, Reagan nominated him to replace William Rehnquist as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States after Rehnquist had been nominated by Reagan to serve as chief justice of the United States. The Senate approved Scalia in a vote of 98-0. He took his seat on September 26, 1986, becoming the first Italian-American justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. There was very little controversy on Scalia's rise to Supreme Court justice, partly attributed to the elevation of Rehnquist to chief justice.

Oath of office

Justice Scalia took the Constitutional Oath of Office on September 26, 1986, which was administered by retiring Chief Justice Warren Burger. Later that day, Scalia received the Judicial Oath of Office from newly sworn in Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Justice Scalia is the first Supreme Court justice in history to receive the oaths from two different chief justices.[16]

Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

President Ronald Reagan nominated Scalia to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on July 15, 1982. Scalia's nomination was reported to the full Senate on August 4, 1982, and he was confirmed on August 5, 1982. Scalia left the court when he was elevated to the Supreme Court of the United States on September 17, 1986.


One of Scalia's interests is a love of opera, which he shares with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The pair has attended the opera together many times, which has led to the creation of Scalia/Ginsberg, an opera in which the two justices spar over their constitutional ideology. Scalia also enjoys hunting, something that he has introduced to Elena Kagan in an attempt to offer better understanding of Second Amendment advocates.[17][18]

Recent news

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See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
William Rehnquist
Supreme Court
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Roger Robb
DC Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by:
David Sentelle