NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Whether you agreed with him or not, the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a big personality who rather enjoyed the spotlight, and he did not often shy away from controversy.
Scalia died in Texas on Saturday at the age of 79.
He deeply influenced a generation of conservative legal thinkers and was a lightning rod for criticism from the left almost from the moment President Ronald Reagan put him on the court in 1986.
Here are 10 things about Justice Scalia that you may or may not know:
1: The only child of an Italian immigrant father who was a professor of Romance languages and a mother who taught elementary school, Scalia attended public schools in his native New Jersey, graduated first in his class at Georgetown University and won high honors at the Harvard University Law School.
2: While on his high school drill team, Scalia carried his rifle in a case on the New York City subways.
3: Scalia showed a deep commitment to originalism, which he later began calling textualism, meaning that he believed the Constitution should be interpreted as how the original authors intended. Otherwise, he said disparagingly, judges could decide that “the Constitution means exactly what I think it ought to mean.”
4: Quick-witted and loquacious, Scalia was among the most persistent, frequent and quotable interrogators of the lawyers who appeared before the court. During Scalia’s first argument session as a court member, Justice Lewis F. Powell leaned over and asked a colleague, “Do you think he knows that the rest of us are here?”
5: He could be unsparing even with his allies. In 2007, Scalia sided with Chief Justice John Roberts in a decision that gave corporations and labor unions wide latitude to air political ads close to elections. Yet Scalia was upset that the new chief justice’s opinion did not explicitly overturn an earlier decision. “This faux judicial restraint is judicial obfuscation,” Scalia said.
6: He could be a strong supporter of privacy in cases involving police searches and defendants’ rights. Indeed, Scalia often said he should be the “poster child” for the criminal defense bar.
7: The justice relished a good fight. In 2004, when an environmental group asked him to step aside from a case involving Vice President Dick Cheney after reports that Scalia and Cheney hunted ducks together, the justice responded with a 21-page memorandum explaining his intention to hear the case. He said “the nation is in deeper trouble than I had imagined,” if people thought a duck-hunting trip could sway his vote.
8: Scalia was in the court’s majority in the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision, which effectively decided the presidential election for Republican George W. Bush. “Get over it,” Scalia would famously say at speaking engagements in the ensuing years whenever the topic arose.
9: Scalia did not think much of the media, which he generally found to be shallow and more than a little biased against him and his fellow conservatives. He told a visitor to his office at the court that he wished supermarket checkout stands carried the University of Chicago Law Review instead of tabloids. Reporters cared too much whether the “little old lady won or lost” before the Supreme Court. Scalia said, “I couldn’t care less, as long as we get the law right.”
10: A smoker of cigarettes and pipes, Scalia enjoyed baseball, poker, hunting and the piano. He was an enthusiastic singer at court Christmas parties and other musical gatherings, and once appeared on stage with Ginsburg as a Washington Opera extra.
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