Sitting around with my family on the eve of one of America's most beloved Holidays; Valentine's Day, we learned of the passing of Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia was the first Italian American to ever serve on the Supreme Court and has earned the distinction of being the longest serving member of this court.
The news of the death of a US Supreme Court Justice was shocking. The last Justice to die in office was William H. Rehnquist in 2005; prior to that no justice had died in office since the early 1950s.
Like his life, and many if not most of his decisions, his passing has now created controversy. Our lame duck president is charged with the constitutional duty to replace the deceased justice. In a moment of breathtaking consistency, with the corpse still warm, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, boldly stated that he would not allow Obama to fill the vacancy on the highest court in the land.
The level of hatred directed at the first African American president has engrossed the leaders of Congress to the degree that they no longer care about good government; what's best for this country and/or the people who live here or doing their job. Leaving the court in a virtual tie thus hamstringing the court and rendering it dysfunctional (much like our Congress) is of benefit to no one. Those who control the majority party in the House and Senate want to control it all. Having the other party control a significant branch of government has been seen as a problem; one for which there is only one solution which is replacement. Seven years ago Sen. McConnell famously stated that he was committed to ensuring Obama would be a one-term president.
Perhaps the only option McConnell would accept would be if Obama replaced the homophobic Scalia with another homophobic, ultra-conservative equally out of step with our nation as Scalia had been.
Over the past thirty years Antonin Scalia has most certainly left his mark on America. He can be held responsible for gutting affirmative action law and the destruction of voting rights law. He has been championed by his supporters for his steadfast conservative views; views that are out of date.
He was one of the justices who voted to put a halt to vote counting in Florida that had it been allowed to continue would have seen Al Gore become our president. Take a moment to reflect on how different our lives would be today had George W. Bush not been our president.
He argued in support of changing the definition of corruption as it applies to politicians and later used his flawed argument to support one of the worst decisions in American history; Citizens United. He convinced himself that simply because the rich gave money to a candidate that should not imply that said candidate could be bought and corrupted.
His legacy will be one of discrimination against minorities, phobia of gays and a desire to support and endorse corruption. Unlike his peers he sought the limelight and thoroughly enjoyed publicly ruffling feathers. He was a man who thought he was always right and others were always wrong. Life was black and white for Justice Scalia although he would probably have preferred it be whiter.
In an interview with Charlie Rose on his new book he was quoted as saying, "A man who has made no enemies is probably not a very good man". It's impossible to get through life without creating a few enemies, but perhaps the goal might be to try and create as few as possible; not to be on a quest to create more.
Antonin Scalia was a highly controversial Supreme Court Justice whose words have caused great damage to our nation. By his own definition he was a very good man.