A strong voice on the United States Supreme Court has died. Justice Antonin Scalia died at age 79. While I may not always agree with his opinions, he made a large impact on our nation’s highest court.
Justice Scalia began his service on the court as an outsider known for caustic dissents that alienated even potential allies. But his theories, initially viewed as idiosyncratic, gradually took hold, and not only on the right and not only in the courts.
He was, Judge Richard A. Posner wrote in The New Republic in 2011, the most influential justice of the last quarter century. Justice Scalia was a champion of originalism, the theory of constitutional interpretation that seeks to apply the understanding of those who drafted and ratified the Constitution. In Justice Scalias hands, originalism generally led to outcomes that pleased political conservatives, but not always. His approach was helpful to criminal defendants in cases involving sentencing and the cross-examination of witnesses.