Once labelled a “firebrand,” the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Saturday in Texas seems to have ignited a verbal firestorm during an already intense election year cycle, and some say America’s first Italian-American justice would have enjoyed the passion of the debate about replacing him.
Asked once about his potential retirement from the court so that “a more conservative president can appoint a like-minded justice,” Scalia replied that he would not want to be replaced by anyone who would immediately set about “undoing everything that I’ve tried to do for 25 years…” in July 2012 on FoxNews. Justice Scalia’s entire answer was this:
“I would not like to be replaced by someone who immediately sets about undoing everything that I’ve tried to do for 25 years, 26 years, sure. I mean, I shouldn’t have to tell you that. Unless you think I’m a fool.”
Which may somewhat explain the conflict arising during the midst of this election. So much can be argued and debated before voters head off to cast their ballots for the next President of the United States of America. (In the attached video, Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes tries to explain where the U.S. Supreme Court actually stands after the death of Justice Scalia. He also considers how the vacant seat will impact the 2016 presidential election.)
Heaven and Hell
The man was a unique voice, and that can be seen from other analyses on other websites. One lucky writer scored a revealing interview with the man a few years ago, however.
Asked if he believed in heaven and hell, in 2013 by writer Jennifer Senior for NYmag, Justice Scalia answered, “Oh, of course I do.” He then turned it around and asked the same of the writer. “Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?”
“No,” the writer replied. She later added another question. “Does that mean I’m not going?”
“Unfortunately not,” Scalia replied, laughing about the conversational topic. It became clearer that he was thinking of Catholic doctrine.
The writer, wishing to clarify things, asked another question. “Wait, to heaven or hell?”
“It doesn’t mean you’re not going to hell,” Scalia explained, “just because you don’t believe in it. That’s Catholic doctrine! Everyone is going one place or the other.”
The writer asked a follow-up. “But you don’t have to be a Catholic to get into heaven? Or believe in it?”
Justice Scalia was clear. “Of course not!
“Oh. So you don’t know where I’m going. Thank God,” replied the writer.
Judas I. and the Pope
The conversation continued though, highlighting Scalia’s mental processing it seems, as Scalia could not leave it, having more upon his mind perhaps than most people would. “I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell. I mean, that’s what the pope meant when he said, ‘Who am I to judge?’ He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died. Who knows?”
The writer was ready to move on, apparently, but Scalia was not. “Can we talk about your drafting process—” she asked then.
Scalia whispered a big truth about himself then, likely giving her more than she bargained for in this interview. “I even believe in the Devil.”
Well, that was too much to pass by without acknowledging, apparently. The writer asked. “You do?”
“Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person,” answered Scalia. “Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.”
The writer questioned that statement. “Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there ….”
“If you are faithful to Catholic dogma,” Scalia answered, “that is certainly a large part of it.”
The Devil lately
Writer Jennifer Senior questioned Justice Scalia on that statement. “Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?”
“You know, it is curious,” answered Scalia, pondering her question. “In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.”
The writer agrees with him. “No,” she answers.
Scalia continues. “It’s because he’s smart.”
She asks the Justice another follow-up. “So what’s he doing now?”
“What he’s doing now,” said Scalia, “is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.”
Later on, the writer asks: “Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?”
“You’re looking at me as though I’m weird,” answered Scalia. “My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.”
‘evenly split court’
With the balance of the nation’s highest court in everyone’s mind, left-right-and-middle, the court now stands without Scalia and is reduced to being “evenly split,” according to reporter David G. Savage of the LATimes. Four of the remaing appointees came from nominations by Democratic presidents, all fairly liberal, and with the loss of Scalia, four are also considered “relatively conservative.”
This may mean the justices are left “unable to definitively resolve several major issues and with the partisan balance to be determined by the next nominee,” writes Savage. But only time will tell on that.