The first person to shake Justice Antonin Scalia’s hand in heaven tonight is St. Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers.
The country is shocked to learn of the death of Justice Scalia. The associate justice of the Supreme Court, who was the intellectual backbone of the Right on the court and who worked tirelessly for the good of the nation, had been visiting a luxury resort in West Texas during a hunting trip. Sources said he told friends he wasn’t feeling well before going to bed Friday night. On Saturday morning when he missed breakfast, a staff member at the ranch went to check on him and found that the justice had passed away.
In true Washington, D.C., fashion, naturally the immediate response to this tragic news is: What are the political repercussions? Will President Obama try to replace Scalia as quickly as he can? (Of course he will.) Who will replace this brave conservative voice on the High Court? While all of this has its place, let America pause first and remember the life of a great man.
“Justice Scalia will never be forgotten as a great Catholic, a great father and grandfather, and a lover of his country,” Fr. C. John McCloskey III, a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei and a research fellow of the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C., told LifeZette on Saturday. “He will go down in history as one of the best members of the Supreme Court. I knew him well. In this Lenten season, we will pray for the repose of the soul. I am sure he will go straight to heaven.”
Scalia received last rites from a Catholic priest at the Texas ranch where he died, Elizabeth O’Hara, a spokeswoman for the diocese of El Paso, said on Saturday. Rev. Mike Alcuino, who serves at a parish in Presidio County, Texas, administered the last rites.
Born in Trenton, New Jersey, and educated at Harvard, the University of Fribourg, and Georgetown, Justice Scalia devoted his life to this country. He could have done so many other things with his talent and abilities, yet he spent almost decades trying to protect the American people from lunatics.
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His constant struggle to bring true justice to the highest court of the land was influenced by his profound respect for the Constitution. He was a staunch critic of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion in this country; he called Obergefell v. Hodges (which legalized gay marriage) a “threat to American democracy” in his dissent; and he fiercely defended the Second Amendment. He was a fierce protector of states’ rights.
Justice Scalia’s life and service to our nation should be honored and respected by both sides of the political spectrum. He is a true American hero.
I’m reminded of this passage from Ezekiel (in the King James Version):
And he said unto me, “Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.”
And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me,
and set me upon my feet,
that I heard him that spake unto me.
And he said unto me, “Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel,
to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me:
they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day.
For they are impudent children and stiff hearted.
I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord God.’
And they, whether they will hear,
or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house),
yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.”
Ezekiel 2: 1-5 (KJV)
This country did not always hear, and forbear, in response to Justice Scalia. But we all know he was a prophet among us.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, noted on Fox News this evening: “He was a man of real faith, deep faith, that I think properly influenced his judicial decision making. (He had a) wonderful family, was so much fun to be with… (He was) clearly the leader of this attempt and this movement that has brought the court back to a more traditional role.”
Fr. Michael Sliney, a Catholic priest and the New York chaplain of the Lumen Institute, an association of business and cultural leaders, told LifeZette, “Justice Scalia was a devout Catholic who allowed his Catholic faith to inform his decisions. He was not concerned about winning or losing, or of public opinion. He was not afraid to voice his dissent. Whether it was about Obamacare, same sex marriage, or issues of life, he never held back his thoughts but let his true feelings be known.”
John G. Roberts, chief justice of the United States, released a statement that said in part: “He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the court and the country he so loyally served.” The justice leaves behind 9 children and 28 grandchildren.
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The flag outside the Supreme Court has been set at half mast.