The sudden passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has left an enormous void in the nation’s highest Court. Whether people agreed or disagreed with his legal opinions or politics, Justice Scalia’s almost thirty years of service not only helped shape this country, but his mere presence demanded respect and arguably gave further credence to the Court. His brilliant legal mind, astute reasoning, irrefutable knowledge of the law and incomparable integrity was a beacon in the Court, and his presence alone, let alone his line of questioning, was enough to unnerve even the best of lawyers.
But alas what followed in the hours after Justice Scalia’s passing, and even before his family could make it to his side, was a power struggle and partisan political bickering that is insulting to the American people, let alone the Justice’s family.
Yes, the Constitution mandates that “he [The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the Supreme Court,” however, nowhere does it stipulate a strict timeframe for such action. Now I ask you, doesn’t someone who served his country for almost three decades, in the highest Court in the land, deserve to be mourned and to be given due respect? The actions of both current elected officials and aspiring candidates from all parties was frankly, insensitive, callus and downright disrespectful to the memory of the good Justice. It was as if his death was a mere footnote, an inconsequential detail to the more pressing issue of finding a “replacement.”
Moreover, although the media is tasked to ask the tough questions and to keep the public informed, the intrusive and aggressive queries persistently posed during this sensitive time felt inappropriate and a disservice to their audience and to the nation. Furthermore, the behavior of current officeholders and those seeking public office is disconcerting as they seem to have failed to recognize the significance of the situation, and chose to proceed with business as usual. The seeming lack of respect afforded to the late Justice, is disturbing to say the least, and may cause citizens to reconsider our leaders’ competency and question their judgment for the position they serve or seek to serve. Yes, we must be resilient in the face of upheaval, but not to the extent that we forget to show our humanity.
Surely in the days, weeks or months to come, a successor will be nominated, vetted and appointed to the highest Court, but Justice Scalia will never truly be replaced. The brand of justice and legal acumen Justice Scalia exemplified in his long service to the Court is irreplaceable.
I had the honor of meeting Justice Scalia many years ago, and found him to be personable and quite humble for a man of his stature. He fully understood the importance and gravity of his duties and acted accordingly, but in the same token knew when to leave the robe behind. Justice Scalia is arguably one of the greatest Supreme Court Justices to ever serve our Country, and he deserves to be treated as such. The magnitude of his loss will be felt in the Courts for many years to come, and although a successor will soon be named, Justice Scalia’s legacy will live on through his work both on and off the Court.