Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is dead at 79. The longest-serving judge on the court, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and became its most outspoken conservative, joining textualist and originalist interpretations of the U.S. Constitution with a scathing attitude that made his dissents and opinions enjoyable to laymen.
The New York Times describes him as having led a conservative renaissance on the Supreme Court—one likely to end sharpish having died during a liberal presidency.
He was, Judge Richard A. Posner wrote in The New Republic in 2011, “the most influential justice of the last quarter century.” Justice Scalia was a champion of originalism, the theory of constitutional interpretation that seeks to apply the understanding of those who drafted and ratified the Constitution. In Justice Scalia’s hands, originalism generally led to outcomes that pleased political conservatives, but not always. His approach was helpful to criminal defendants in cases involving sentencing and the cross-examination of witnesses. …
He was an exceptional stylist who labored over his opinions and took pleasure in finding precisely the right word or phrase. In dissent, he took no prisoners. The author of a majority opinion could be confident that a Scalia dissent would not overlook any shortcomings.
When Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) first witnessed a Gorgeous George match, he saw the path to stardom. The provocative professional wrestler walked down the aisle to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” while dressed in a formfitting red velvet gown and a lush white satin robe. With his nose held high, George surveyed his domain and addressed the crowd: “Peasants!” He relished the insults, screams, and foot stomping. “Oh, everybody just booed him,” Clay recalled. “I looked around and I saw everybody was mad. I was mad! I saw 15,000 people coming to see this man get beat, and his talking did it. And I said, ‘This is a gooood idea.’”
UPDATE This is a couple months old — I read “Mar 5” as “May 5.” My apologies. Ray Tomlinson created the first networked email system in 1971 while working on his MIT doctorate and collaborating on the early ARPAnet at BBN; he used @ — the at symbol — to separate the username from the […]
My condolences to his family, who deserved a better person in their lives.
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