In Memoriam: Justice Scalia

In Memoriam: Justice Scalia February 14, 2016

You couldn’t have a better man at your side in a losing battle. What he’ll do if we win, I can’t imagine. — C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength


Scalia public domain portrait
Wikimedia Commons/public domain

It would be impossible to do justice to the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a blog post, so I won’t even bother making the attempt. I am still in disbelief that he is gone. But I still felt a few words were in order to mark the passing of this legal giant and fearless warrior for Christ.

In losing Justice Scalia, we have lost a great steward of the Good. A staunch defender of life, marriage, and religious liberty, he upheld his sworn duty to interpret the Constitution as written even when other members of the Supreme Court stabbed their country in the back. In dissent after blistering dissent, he never failed to stand athwart the path of progressivism crying “Stop!” Like the character of MacPhee in C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, Justice Scalia was the best man you could have at your side in a losing battle. Like Mr. Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, he understood that sometimes lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for.

His last dissent, against the decision that declared gay “marriage” a constitutional right, may have been his best one yet. It is fitting and sobering that he should go out on this scathing, yet tragically true note: “The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

In April, 1996, Scalia gave a speech at a Catholic prayer breakfast that closed with this profound word of wisdom: “If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.” Scalia certainly suffered his share of contempt in life, and that contempt is reaching an almost demonic fever pitch in the wake of his death.

May the Church continue to take heart from the courageous legacy of Justice Scalia. The godless and the perverse may trample on his grave, but the truth will endure to all generations. We shall not see his like again.

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