Politico symposium on Justice Scalia

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Justice Antonin Scalia.
Justice Antonin Scalia.

Politico has posted a symposium on the late Justice Antonin Scalia and his legacy, with contributions by numerous prominent legal scholars, including Laurence Tribe, Michael McConnell, Gillian Metzger, Geoffrey Stone, my co-blogger Orin Kerr, and others. Not surprisingly, there is much disagreement about the controversial aspects of his jurisprudence, as well as over his tone and style, which sometimes included harsh rhetorical attacks on opposing views.

On the other hand, there is considerable cross-ideological consensus that Scalia was a great legal thinker who had a major impact, especially by means of his strong advocacy of originalism.

Here is an excerpt from my own contribution:

Scalia was one of the most important and influential Supreme Court justices of the last several decades. His passing is a great loss to the nation.

His most significant contribution was his powerful defense of originalism in constitutional theory and textualism in statutory interpretation. When he was first appointed to the court, most judges and legal scholars tended to ignore the original meaning of the Constitution, and often assumed that legislative history was a more important guide to the meaning of a law than actual wording of the law itself. Scalia helped change that. Today, both textualism and originalism enjoy widespread acceptance. Some of that support even cuts across ideological lines….

In landmark recent cases addressing federalism, the right to bear arms and other important issues, both sides made extensive use of originalist arguments that would have been unusual a generation ago. When it comes to statutory interpretation, judges of all political stripes take text more seriously than they might have in the 1980s. Some of that progress is undoubtedly due to Scalia's forceful and effective advocacy…

Much of Scalia's jurisprudence is highly controversial… But even those of us who often differed with him would find it difficult to name another recent Supreme Court justice who made a comparably great contribution to legal thought.

UPDATE: I at first accidentally failed to include a link to the Politico symposium. That mistake has now been fixed.