With the recent death of Supreme Justice Antonin Scalia, the United States has lost one of its greatest legal minds. Scalia’s nearly 30-year tenure on the Supreme Court was marked by his textualist philosophy, pointed questions and his carefully crafted and passionate opinions. Further, his presence also shifted the Court in a notably conservative direction, including on Second Amendment jurisprudence. Although Scalia’s legacy will be indisputably controversial, none can question that it is significant. Nonetheless, we now have a vacancy on the Court.
Antonin Scalia was never popular at Cornell. Whenever the name Justice Scalia surfaced in any of my government courses, a collective sigh of anger and frustration filled the room. Yet for some of us, Scalia was an unapologetic trail blazer. While certainly there were numerous decisions in which I strongly disagreed with the late jurist, I nevertheless found Scalia to be one of the most decent, brilliant and profoundly transformational members of the high court. My admiration for Scalia emerged in the first Supreme Court case I ever followed: Maryland v. King (2013).