U.S. Supreme Court Justice and former UVa Law Professor Antonin Scalia died at age 79 on February 13. Reports say that he died from natural causes in Texas.
Before becoming a Supreme Court Justice, Scalia was on the UVa Law School faculty from 1967 until 1974. He taught Comparative Law, Commercial Transactions, Conflict of Law, and Problems in U.S. Communication Policy and Contracts. Scalia remained close to the University after leaving his faculty position, and several UVa students went on to clerk for him. His granddaughter is currently a first year student.
David O’Brien, a Politics professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, met Scalia several times over the years. He described Scalia as delightful, engaging, and full of life.
Scalia was well known for his support of conservative originalism, asserting that the constitution should be interpreted based on the founders’ original intents. He had served on the Supreme Court since being appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
The Justice’s death also comes at a bit of a turning point for the federal government with the upcoming Presidential election and current campaign. There is a debate about whether or not Obama or the next president should nominate a new Supreme Court Justice.
“The 2016 election is already intense but his unfortunate passing raises the ante. I would add that it is too bad that some candidates are calling for delay and no confirmation of a successor until after the 2016 presidential election. That, of course, goes against his championing of a jurisprudence of ‘original textualism,’ for which he was well known. The Framers did not intent for the appointment of Supreme Court justices to turn on a ‘popular referendum’ or vote–to the contrary they feared, rightly so, popular passions,” O’Brien said.