Justice Antonin Scalia

Last updated: July 7th, 2020

“The main business of a lawyer is to take the romance, the mystery, the irony, the ambiguity out of everything he touches.”

A Bill of Rights that means what the majority wants it to mean is worthless.

“The main business of a lawyer is to take the romance, the mystery, the irony, the ambiguity out of everything he touches.”

“Interior decorating is a rock-hard science compared to psychology practiced by amateurs.”

“What is a moderate interpretation of the text? Halfway between what it really means and what you’d like it to mean?”

As a young man, you’re dazzled by the power of the White House and all that. But power tends to corrupt.

“There exists in some parts of the world sanctimonious criticism of America’s death penalty, as somehow unworthy of a civilized society.”

“It is myopic to base sweeping change on the narrow experience of a few years.”

“Tyrannies have long lists of rights. What they do not have is structural restraints on the power of government.”

“The virtue of a democratic system with a [constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech] is that it readily enables the people, over time, to be persuaded that what they took for granted is not so, and to change their laws accordingly.”

Originalism is sort of subspecies of textualism. Textualism means you are governed by the text. That’s the only thing that is relevant to your decision, not whether the outcome is desirable, not whether legislative history says this or that. But the text of the statute.

“The main business of a lawyer is to take the romance, the mystery, the irony, the ambiguity out of everything he touches.”

“A written constitution is needed to protect values AGAINST prevailing wisdom.”

“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.”

“Interior decorating is a rock-hard science compared to psychology practiced by amateurs.”

“But I’m not a pro-death penalty. I – I’m just anti the notion that it is not a matter for democratic choice, that it has been taken away from the democratic choice of the people by a provision of the Constitution.”

“Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

“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.”

The court makes an amazing amount of decisions that ought to be made by the people.

“But I’m not a pro-death penalty. I – I’m just anti the notion that it is not a matter for democratic choice, that it has been taken away from the democratic choice of the people by a provision of the Constitution.”

“Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry
out a death sentence properly reached.”

“I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favour religion over nonrelation.”

Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached.

“There exists in some parts of the world sanctimonious criticism of America’s death penalty, as somehow unworthy of a civilized society.”

“To invoke alien law when it agrees with one’s own thinking, and ignore it otherwise, is not reasoned decisionmaking, but sophistry.”

“It’s a long, uphill fight to get back to original orthodoxy. We have two ‘originality’ on the Supreme Court. That’s something.”

It is myopic to base sweeping change on the narrow experience of a few years.

“In a big family the first child is kind of like the first pancake. If it’s not perfect, that’s okay, there are a lot more coming along.”

“We had to do something [in Bush v. Gore], because countries were laughing at us. France was laughing at us.”

“I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonrelation.”

“The court makes an amazing amount of decisions that ought to be made by the people.”

“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.”

“In 1905, the Supreme Court of the United States applied the rule to the country’s founding document: “The Constitution is a written instrument. As such its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when adopted it means now.”

“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.”

“Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached.”

It is myopic to base sweeping change on the narrow experience of a few years.

“There exists in some parts of the world sanctimonious criticism of America’s death penalty, as somehow unworthy of a civilized society.”

“Grant Gilmore: “In Heaven, there will be no law, and the lion will lie down with the lamb….In Hell, there will be nothing but law, and due process will be meticulously observed.”

“I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonrelation.”

“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.”

“The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living, but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means, today, not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”

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