Bully on the Bench: the Legacy of Scalia

Photograph Source: Phil Roeder – CC BY 2.0

The mythologizing of Antonin Scalia began only a few hours after his leathery heart stopped beating in West Texas and Satan swept his soul to the 8th Circle of the Inferno, where corrupt barrators are imprisoned for eternity. Here, strapped to a sparking electric chair, Scalia’s torments will be supervised by the demon Malacoda, who, Dante informs us, regularly “makes a trumpet of his ass.”

There was something of an uproar over the lack of an autopsy for Scalia’s ravaged body. Quick-draw conspiracists alleged the portly associate justice was murdered to give Obama a chance to realign the Supreme Court. These creative thinkers seem not to have paid much attention to the bleak presence of Elena Kagan on the bench. There’s no mystery about Scalia’s death. A three- pack a day man for most of his life, Scalia was clearly offed by his friends in the tobacco industry, whose murderous enterprise he zealously guarded in his legal opinions. And they say there’s no justice.

It’s not Scalia’s corpse that needed dissecting, but the true nature and quality of his jurisprudence. From the Weekly Standard to the Washington Post, Scalia was lionized as a “titanic legal thinker,” who possessed a blistering prose style and a wit “worthy of Swift.” Even more bizarrely, the praise for Scalia’s alleged brilliance was advanced by Beltway liberals, such as former Obama White House counsel Cass Sunstein (spouse of the odious Samantha Power) who asserted that Scalia was “witty, warm, funny and full of life. He was not only one of the most important justices in the nation’s history; he was also one of the greatest.” This curious assessment would have surprised former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who for years sternly refused to assign any major court ruling to Scalia because he feared Scalia’s mad legal theories and nasty prose style would undermine the standing of the court.

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Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3

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