Tag Archives: Justice Antonin Scalia

Supreme Standoff

Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death in February created a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court during a highly volatile time — right before a hotly contested presidential election, with a sitting Democrat President. No matter how or when the vacancy is filled, it will deeply affect not only the balance of power between conservatives and liberals on the Supreme Court but the very life of our nation.

Two Legatus members and the senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom weigh in on the Supreme Court vacancy.

Bursch-LiMandri-CortmanJOHN BURSCH is a member of Legatus’ Grand Rapids Chapter. He is a partner in the law firm of Warner, Norcross and Judd. He has argued nine cases in the front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

CHARLES LIMANDRI is a member of Legatus’ San Diego Chapter and received Legatus’ Ambassador of the Year award in 2005. He is the founder of the Law Offices of Charles LiMandri. He spearheaded efforts to maintain traditional marriage in California. LiMandri is helping to defend David Daleiden from Planned Parenthood lawsuits.

DAVID CORTMAN is the senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom. He is ADF’s primary U.S. Supreme Court litigator.

 

WHAT LEGACY DID JUSTICE SCALIA LEAVE AT THE SUPREME COURT?

BURSCH: His biggest contribution was his approach to judging, which was through “originalism.” This means that when Congress enacts a statute, you need to apply the plain words. Words don’t change meanings. If you want to change the meaning, you do it through an amendment. Several judges ascribe to the idea of a “living Constitution.” They look at the spirit and how it would apply today, but Scalia just applied the text. This has become the dominant philosophy. It has had a major impact on the judiciary throughout the country.

LIMANDRI: Scalia was a very faithful adherent to the “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution. He was very clear and consistent. The only way to properly interpret the Constitution was: What did they [the Founding Fathers] intend? You can’t project yourself into it. You can’t do it in light of current fads, because these can change and shift. These demi-gods [progressive judges] hold themselves out as enlightened ones and scoff at the Founding Fathers. Scalia was a voice of sanity and truth, and he influenced his colleagues by tempering them. There have been lots of conservative judges who have been influenced by Scalia. His clarity of voice has given lots of material to conservative thought.

CORTMAN: Justice Scalia was one of the most influential Supreme Court justices of all time. His wit and intellect were admired by Americans of all political persuasions, and his adherence to the text and original meaning of the Constitution illuminated the way we understand the law.

 

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO MERRICK GARLAND’S NOMINATION?

BURSCH: He is a pretty moderate choice. Garland is very centrist in his views. We do not know about his views on abortion and same-sex “marriage,” but President Obama would only nominate someone with his views. On religious liberty cases, he has had four cases. On two cases, he was in favor the government. On the other two cases, he was in favor of the plaintiff. Garland is well liked by everyone and he’d be a fairly easy person to confirm, except that this is an election year. Some Republicans who are up for re-election this year have expressed a willingness to speak to him. This is a pretty rare situation — to nominate a Supreme Court Justice during the last year of a lame duck presidency. It hasn’t happened in 80 years. If he gets approved, he would be the fourth Jewish justice on the current Supreme Court.

LIMANDRI: Merrick is, at best, a moderate, but he is predisposed to liberal positions. Obama wants someone who follows his views: empathy rather than judicial precedent. He wants judges who bend with the times, which is trending liberal. I don’t want any nomination that Obama makes to be approved.

 

WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE APPOINTED?

LIMANDRI: I would like for Republican leadership to stand by and not act on this nomination. They’re not required to do so. There is no more important issue than the replacement of Scalia. People don’t realize that our Founding Fathers were enlightened. When they got stuck writing the Constitution, it was Ben Franklin who asked everyone to take a few days off to pray. George Washington dedicated the U.S. to Christ.

CORTLAND: The concern every time a new nomination to the Supreme Court comes up is whether the nominee will faithfully interpret the Constitution and rule in accordance with its original meaning. It’s no different this time, so of course ADF hopes that the next justice to be seated for a lifetime appointment on the court will uphold the Constitution and apply the law neutrally.

 

HOW WILL THE NEXT JUSTICE AFFECT THE BALANCE OF POWER?

BURSCH: Before Scalia’s death we had four conservatives and four liberals, and Kennedy was a swing voter. If we appoint a liberal, then all the cases will come out more liberal.

LIMANDRI: We’re talking about someone who will serve for 10 to 20 years. They will influence the U.S. for decades. There are issues in SCOTUS — like the HHS mandate, religious liberty, the effort to regulate abortion clinics, the second amendment, immigration issues, the death penalty — these are important issues that will determine if the U.S. can turn around or continue down this path. If liberal judges get the majority, for those of us with a Judeo-Christian point of view, our country will be put in a free fall: Religious liberty will be written out of existence, devout Catholics will go to jail. Liberals will see us as traitors. They don’t like how we think. This will turn into a desire to destroy us. I know from experience from my work in defending marriage in California. I have gotten hateful emails and death threats.

CORTLAND: Every Supreme Court justice is extremely important. However, Justice Scalia’s passing is unique, not only because of who he was and what he represented, but because of the time in history in which we lost him.

 

DOES THE SUPREME COURT HAVE TOO MUCH POWER?

BURSCH: It has been a long time since we’ve been able to democratically decide things. There has been a legal gridlock in Congress, so things are now decided in the courts.

LIMANDRI: SCOTUS has taken over power it was not intended to have. It’s supposed to interpret, not make laws. The source of interpretation is the Constitution and the text of laws. You have to look at what the law says, not what you want it to say. On same-sex “marriage,” the Constitution says nothing on marriage. It was always left up to the states. The US v Windsor case said that two years ago. And then two years later, they ruled in Obergefell v Hodges to legalize same-sex “marriage.” SCOTUS has stolen power from the people. Two out of three people had voted against same-sex “marriage” in state referendums. SCOTUS has destroyed the institution that allows life to come in an ordered way.

SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer

Living with the end in mind

I attended a number of funerals this past Lent — and we as a country experienced the tremendous loss of a truly heroic Catholic and Supreme Court justice: Antonin Scalia.

Tom Monaghan

When I attend funerals or contemplate the loss of someone like Justice Scalia, I cannot help but wrestle with my own mortality. Of course we all know intellectually that we are going to die and that it’s a question of when, not if. But do we really live like we are going to die? By which I mean: Does it affect our day-to-day decisions?

The traditional Ash Wednesday prayer when we are marked with the sign of the cross is, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). The Church obviously wants us to keep this in mind. Many of the great saints also exhorted us to be mindful of our final end. Saint Bonaventure wrote, “To lead a good life, a man should always imagine himself at the hour of death.” We often see pictures of saints with a skull on their desk. While at first glance this might seem morbid, this was to remind themselves that this world is not their ultimate end.

In 21st century America, the whole reality of death is almost hidden. With all the advances in medicine, we can be made to feel like we will live forever. Of course no one would ever say this outright, but we might be tempted to live with this underlying principle. Youth, health, strength, beauty are all good things, but our culture idolizes them almost to the point of denying that we will die one day.

When we think or talk about running our businesses and making goals, whether we do so consciously or not, many of us use “Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind,” made famous by Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This is exactly what the Church teaches us when we’re encouraged to contemplate our final end.

We are in the Year of Mercy, as declared by our Holy Father. However, unless we understand that we need mercy, seeking or receiving mercy is not going to mean a whole lot to us or to those around us. However, when we really do a thorough examination of conscience and get in touch with our sinfulness and our need for God’s mercy, that’s when we can truly seek and receive it.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder and chairman.

A freedom, a duty, a privilege

Some years ago I recall Warren Buffett confessing his gratitude for having been born in the United States in the 20th century. He acknowledged that mankind has never before enjoyed the level of cultural, scientific and physical advances Americans enjoy today.

John Hunt

John Hunt

During Legatus’ 2008 pro-life conference in Washington, D.C., we were privileged to have an audience with recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In the Q&A that followed the justice’s remarks, a question lamented the fact that the courts, and in particular the U.S. Supreme Court, too often fail to confirm the Christian virtues we treasure.

Scalia’s response reminded the questioner and all present that the citizenry would be better served if it elected representatives at the local, state and federal level who exemplify ethical and moral norms consistent with our Catholic Christian faith.

Of course, Justice Scalia was correct that we, in the first instance, elect those representatives who will infuse the culture with a Christian tone and conduct. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes [and] to exercise the right to vote” (# 2240). A moral obligation! But isn’t the exercise of the right to vote more than an obligation?

I’ve been privileged to vote in local, state and federal elections for more years than I care to remember. However, I have always been struck by the sense of privilege, if not downright joy, with which voting citizens address this responsibility.

I had this experience in March as I waited in line to cast my ballot in the Florida primary.

The tone of the conversation among my fellow voters was one of shared responsibility for the task at hand — to elect representatives who will be responsible for serving the common good. It was clear that my fellow voters considered it an honor to have a role in the future of this great country. After all, the right to vote is an extension of all the freedoms we enjoy.

While the process of campaigning is often arcane, cumbersome and inefficient and while the public officials to whom we entrust our well-being are all too often found lacking, the freedoms we enjoy — including the right to vote our conscience — should be treasured as gifts worthy of our appreciation to God for continually blessing us. Truly, God has blessed America.

JOHN HUNT is Legatus’ executive director. He and his wife Kathie are charter members of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter.