Scalia, Antonin

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Scalia, Antonin

Antonin Scalia, 1936–, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1986–), b. Trenton, N.J. He graduated from Harvard Law School (1960) and subsequently taught law at the Univ. of Virginia (1967–71) and the Univ. of Chicago (1977–82). In 1982 President Reagan named him to the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and four years later he was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, taking the seat vacated when William Rehnquist ascended to the position of chief justice. An outspoken conservative, Scalia is a prominent proponent of "textualism," the idea that one should focus on the text of the U.S. constitution or a law and its original meaning when seeking to interpret it, and that decisions of judges should be based on that original meaning, a position enunciated in A Matter of Interpretation (1997). Though he has been willing to overturn (often liberal) precedents and has been one of the most conservative members of the Court's right wing, Scalia has sometimes taken more libertarian positions, for example, protecting flag burning as a form of free speech.

See biography by J. Biskupic (2009).

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