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Abu-Jamal writes: "Justice Antonin Scalia was a controversial figure, and arguably the most intellectually gifted of his colleagues. But it must be said that his brilliance was not at the service of the many but the few."

Mumia Abu-Jamal. (photo: First Run Features)
Mumia Abu-Jamal. (photo: First Run Features)


Antonin Scalia 1936-2016

By Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio

15 February 16

 


Antonin Scalia 1936-2016 (2:42) by Mumia Abu-Jamal
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ustice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court, famous for his quips and his judicial opinions is no more. The Associate Justice, appointed to the courts by President Regan in 1986, was coming up on his 30th year this September on the bench. He was a controversial figure, and arguably the most intellectually gifted of his colleagues. But it must be said that his brilliance was not at the service of the many but the few.

Law professor Cass Sunstein, in his 2005 book Radicals in Robes, criticized both Scalia and perhaps his closest colleague, Justice Clarence Thomas, for their 'original intent' theories. Generally the theory holds anything not explicitly originally written into the constitution was not legitimate law. Such they call both jurists 'false fundamentalists' especially for their opposition to affirmative action, on the theory that government could never take race into account. Sunstein argued wasn't the 13th amendment specifically about race? Wasn't the Civil War? And didn't the Reconstruction Congress create institutions specifically for black ex-slaves, like the Freedmen's Bureau, a financial institution? "To ignore such history" he said, "was disingenuous."

Writer and scholar Chris Hedges, in his 2006 book American Fascist, identified Scalia as a "dominionist jurist," or one who used his religious views, not his legal ones to decided cases. Scalia may have lost his greatest ally in the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision when he critiqued O'Connor decision to uphold the abortions. O'Connor, a stickler for decorum, didn't take kindly to his attack and thereafter moved perceptibly to the left, often becoming the fifth vote for a liberal majority, especially on criminal justice and women's issues. Scalia, brilliant, opinionated, outspoken and in-your-face was never boring. He knew where he stood and planted his flag there for arch-conservatives. Antonin 'Nino' Scalia was in his 79th year of life.

From in Prison Nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.


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+102 # Shades of gray matter 2016-02-15 18:31
I hear Goebbels was pretty clever also.
I don't think you're exactly "intellectually gifted" if you cannot see one iota of your own hypocrisy, contradictory assertions, self delusions. An average person could have reached many more reasonable "Decisions" than he did.
 
 
-1 # newell 2016-02-17 13:27
"Intelligence has more facets than there are stars in the heavens". unknown author.
 
 
+75 # jeffpoley 2016-02-15 18:33
A very appropriate obit, short sweet and right on the money.
 
 
+48 # Archie1954 2016-02-15 18:36
Using the word "brilliance" and Scalia in the same sentence is a definite oxymoron.
 
 
+51 # nancyw 2016-02-15 20:49
He was brilliant, graduating from undergraduate and law school as number one. He just used it to hurt too many and serve those who weren't for the people. A mind wasted is a horrible thing. Interesting that his last words to his host was he wanted to go to bed early and have 'a long night's rest.' Prophetic.
 
 
+51 # tedrey 2016-02-15 18:43
I would find it hard for me to be so gentle with Antonin. He often publicly gave his judgement on a case before the lawyers had presented the arguments, and to me that means he flunked first grade as a judge. If something wasn't supported by the Constitution, it wasn't there for him; but if it wasn't there for him, it wasn't supported by the Constitution. But he was clever and witty, and had good friends. I hope he is judged more mercifully than I would judge him.
 
 
+78 # reiverpacific 2016-02-15 18:44
"identified Scalia as a "dominionist jurist," or one who used his religious views, not his legal ones to decided cases: (quote).
I know that I keep hammering on about this but it's proof-positive of my contention that his (and Thomas') membership in "Opus dei", the elitist Catholic cult, put the dictates of the church before public service.
 
 
+50 # economagic 2016-02-15 18:56
Most "fundamentalist s" in any area of thought or belief are actually "dominionists," hewing to the particular lines that appeal to them out of whatever book they claim to adhere to and ignoring the rest, along with the contradictions.

The reference to the "book" is to Martin Marty's idea of fundamentalists as "people of the book." In my chosen profession I put persuasive debaters like Milton Friedman in that category. I have long thought that he constructed clever "theories" with little if any basis in observable phenomena in order to claim intellectual rigor for what were little more than his personal ideologies. He was awarded the Nobel in large part for his concept of the "natural rate of unemployment." Anyone who has taken an introductory course in macroeconomics has likely been exposed to it, along with one or more definitions under which it can be quantified. But not only are the various definitions not all mutually consistent: Friedman said explicitly that it was not intended as a quantitative variable, nor even an observable one. If it's not observable in some concrete sense, it's not science but superstition!

IMNSHO, Mr. Scalia's "justice" was a lot like Friedman's "economics."
 
 
+6 # RLF 2016-02-16 08:32
Well said Econo.
 
 
+2 # FIRSTNORN1 2016-02-18 12:10
Quoting RLF:
Well said Econo.

Ditto - well said RLF.
IMNSHO, There is an almost perfect analogy between Robert E. Lee and Antonin Scalia.
IF Lee was a great general and military leader, nothing changes the fact that no leader in our history ever fought for a worse cause.
Likewise, no lawyer or judge ever did as much damage to our country as Scalia. Admittedly Justice Taney of Dred Scott *fame* in 1857 was IMHO very close, but Taney had no historical perspective which Scalia could have had if he had not chosen to ignore it.
 
 
+9 # reiverpacific 2016-02-16 10:44
Quoting economagic:
Most "fundamentalists" in any area of thought or belief are actually "dominionists," hewing to the particular lines that appeal to them out of whatever book they claim to adhere to and ignoring the rest, along with the contradictions.

The reference to the "book" is to Martin Marty's idea of fundamentalists as "people of the book." In my chosen profession I put persuasive debaters like Milton Friedman in that category. I have long thought that he constructed clever "theories" with little if any basis in observable phenomena in order to claim intellectual rigor for what were little more than his personal ideologies. He was awarded the Nobel in large part for his concept of the "natural rate of unemployment." Anyone who has taken an introductory course in macroeconomics has likely been exposed to it, along with one or more definitions under which it can be quantified. But not only are the various definitions not all mutually consistent: Friedman said explicitly that it was not intended as a quantitative variable, nor even an observable one. If it's not observable in some concrete sense, it's not science but superstition!

IMNSHO, Mr. Scalia's "justice" was a lot like Friedman's "economics."


Good analogy of two destructive anti-populists.
 
 
+29 # PABLO DIABLO 2016-02-15 18:57
Nominate Elizabeth Warren. She is smart and fair minded. How dare the Congress block one of their own during an election year. She could accomplish far more on the Supreme Court than dealing with 99 members in the Senate and running for re-election every six years.
 
 
+36 # joneal4@gmail.com 2016-02-15 19:10
Does anybody know who was paying for this dude ranch trip? ($350/nite for room) Justice Thomas has notably been hosted on jaunts by Koch Bros. Just wondering.
 
 
+5 # PaulK 2016-02-16 22:02
It's not quite that cheap. Associate Justice Scalia was at a party for 40 people the night he died. The next question would be, on how many such nights per year did some lobbyist pick up the tab?
 
 
+47 # tr4302@gmail.com 2016-02-15 19:15
A kinder obit than I think was called for. Religious views should be personal and not used as standards for legal actions. May the next choice represent a more impartial and compassionate jurist.
 
 
+28 # lights 2016-02-15 19:43
ATTN: President Obama!

You need to call on ALL the enthusiastic supporters you had - especially those revolutionaries from your initial election! Ask them NOW to show up, organize and cover your back. Ask them to stop the Republicans from delaying; insulting you by suggesting you wait until after the election.
 
 
+2 # FIRSTNORN1 2016-02-18 12:23
Quoting lights:
ATTN: President Obama!

You need to call on ALL the enthusiastic supporters you had - especially those revolutionaries from your initial election! Ask them NOW to show up, organize and cover your back. Ask them to stop the Republicans from delaying; insulting you by suggesting you wait until after the election.

Well said! And while we're trying to get Obama's attention, let's ask two more things of him:
Dear President Obama, please get on the Bully Pulpit and ask everyone in this nation to see Michael Moore's "Where to Invade Next".
Secondly, issue a Presidential Pardon to Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. If you think this could damage the Democratic chances in the Nov. election, just keep in mind what FDR said about "Fear" and also you could wait until after the election is over.
 
 
+27 # Robbee 2016-02-15 20:04
eat your hearts out, folks! i spent the afternoon with bernie, along with about 13,000 other fans! - go bernie!
 
 
+31 # davehaze 2016-02-15 20:59
No morality, patriotism, or origionalintent in stopping the vote count and enconscing Georgie Bush in the white house. Just the regular bunch of phony old men. Scalia the santimonious phoniest, and corporate loving, military loving ass to boot.
 
 
+32 # Shades of gray matter 2016-02-15 21:04
I think Antonin Mussolini was a sophist, minus the soft fist. Yes, he could make a case, cherry picking the Bible, for exactly how many angels could sit on the head of a pin. I would go with the child who would say, "Wouldn't that hurt?" Yes, he was very clever. But only a culture in DEEP TROUBLE would not see him for an evil nutcase. C'mon. He knowingly committed treason, for godssake.
 
 
+33 # Shades of gray matter 2016-02-15 21:13
I beg your forgiveness for doing so, but I too graduated #1. NOT because I was smart. But because I was a CHUMP. Because I eagerly soaked up propaganda lies and bullshit. I've spent 50 years trying to unlearn all that crap. You soak up their lies, get rewarded for it, and it becomes a trap. An anti-intellectu al prison where, worst of all, you don't know what you don't know. He never figured that out, so he wasn't such a genius. I bet he rejected most biology and cosmology. Dumb, actually.
 
 
+26 # elkingo 2016-02-15 21:42
For all his outward charm and witty "endearing" personality, Scalia was a self-fascinated narcissistic religious fanatic fascist. Mumia is surprisingly fair and temperate. Real warmth with no compassion.
Such people, note, are not dissembling or hypocrites. Just fucked up in the head, verging toward psychopathy. Imagine: people should be put to death having had due process, even if innocent.
 
 
+14 # shgo 2016-02-15 23:07
are we ready to go to DC and take our country back from the republithugs yet???? We need to be in the streets of our nation's capital NOW.
 
 
+22 # tm7devils 2016-02-15 23:08
Scalia proved only one thing...intelli gence, morality, ethics and critical thinking can all be mutually exclusive.
 
 
+27 # wmarcelle@earthlink.net 2016-02-16 00:41
This man destroyed millions of lives with the decisions that he spearheaded in the SUPREME COURT. He was unleashed upon us by the REAGAN GROUP for the sole purpose of maintaining and defending a FUNDAMENTALIST and CORPORATIST worldview within our justice system. He succeeded brilliantly. I think the world breathes a little easier now that such a scourge has finally perished.
 
 
+1 # RICHARDKANEpa 2016-02-17 00:22
[quote name="wmarcelle@earthlink.net"]This man destroyed millions of lives with the decisions. /quote]

Mumia missed the horror this man unleashed.

Mumia, you never talk of the horror of prison life. Except for your beautiful eulogy to your mother when she died one might think you had no person feelings a mornings. You should be talking of the horrors of a suffering from the uncontrollable itching of an untreated hepatitis C infection from a bad blood transfusion and that you are other hepatitis C prisoners aren't receiving your lifesaving medicine.

Mumia, you never mention brutal whistle blowing anti-corruption Officer Faulkner who you were accused of murdering. The other officers were bound by tradition to support his version of events over yours, had you both ended up wounded in a hospital. Instead I speculate you saw someone go up to him and shot him point black in the head and you only make vague reference with the claim an officer's life was sacrificed. Also, you never mentioned your estranged brother Billy, even though you became friends again. His newsstand serviced the corrupt police officer your exposes of police brutality and corruption were threatening.

I met your older brother Keith at a noisy Philadelphia Social forum conference and tried to tell you why speaking out your estranged brother could make the authorities reinvests who murdered Danny Faulkner, Please Mumia talk about yourself for a change.
 
 
+3 # nice2bgreat 2016-02-16 02:03
.
Scalia was in his 80th year of life; 79 years old.
.
 
 
+8 # diamondmarge7 2016-02-16 02:11
I say DITTO to the excellent comments posted. I actually jumped for joy @ the news. Wished a speedy demise to his chief nasty ___colleague.
 
 
+3 # kalpal 2016-02-16 09:06
The Guardians Of Privilege know full well who pays them to do their bidding.
 
 
-1 # jtatu 2016-02-16 09:12
A beautifully written article that makes its points about Scalia. The vitriolic response of many readers, however, continues to reveal their lack of grace and their meanspirited, angry and miserable nature. Too bad.
 
 
+3 # reiverpacific 2016-02-16 10:42
Quoting jtatu:
A beautifully written article that makes its points about Scalia. The vitriolic response of many readers, however, continues to reveal their lack of grace and their meanspirited, angry and miserable nature. Too bad.


Takes one to imbue vitriol into an unwonted response.
Look in y'r "mirror cracked from side-to-side" Bubba.
 
 
+2 # Desiderata 2016-02-16 13:10
Quoting jtatu:
A beautifully written article that makes its points about Scalia. The vitriolic response of many readers, however, continues to reveal their lack of grace and their meanspirited, angry and miserable nature. Too bad.


Too bad ? For whom ?
 
 
+11 # GravityWave 2016-02-16 13:57
Desiderata, Scalia was a small man who hermetically sealed himself away from the majority of the people he was supposed to serve.No Supreme Court Justice should ever be as limited in his interpretation of the Constitution or play so free and easy with the rule of law as he did. He is culpable in taking away the very thing our Country was built to correct, governing by the people, and could yet prove to be the destroyer of the greatest Country in the history of the world.

No criticism of him can be too damning. He was a bigoted man who couldn't cope with the vast changes and precedents that have taken place, LEGALLY, over the last 200 years in the US. The logic of it all completely overwhelmed him and he slipped into becoming a tool of the insurgency that is now the republican party out of sheer lack of character.
 
 
+4 # JayaVII 2016-02-18 11:31
It's surprising that there's so little attention paid -- none at all in MA-J's brief radio essay here -- that Scalia is more responsible than any other for selecting Bush II in 2000, thus putting paid forever to the integrity and authority of the ballot in America. This act of treason I predict is what Scalia will be remembered for, more than anything else. Of course the American government and judiciary have always been corrupt; but it was this utterly, unapologeticall y partisan decision that showed the corruption was total and without restraint. It was that moment that the country really went over Niagara, and that's where democracy is still, face-down in the water.
 
 
0 # FIRSTNORN1 2016-02-18 12:45
Quoting JayaVII:
It's surprising that there's so little attention paid -- none at all in MA-J's brief radio essay here -- that Scalia is more responsible than any other for selecting Bush II in 2000, thus putting paid forever to the integrity and authority of the ballot in America. This act of treason I predict is what Scalia will be remembered for, more than anything else. Of course the American government and judiciary have always been corrupt; but it was this utterly, unapologetically partisan decision that showed the corruption was total and without restraint. It was that moment that the country really went over Niagara, and that's where democracy is still, face-down in the water.

I only *somewhat* agree with you, JayaVII. Remember that no matter what Scalia's influence actually was with other members of SCOTUS, he was not holding the *proverbial gun* to the head of Sandra Day O'Connor. She had it within her power to send the whole issue back to the Supreme Court in the State of Florida, and in so doing, she could have prevented SCOTUS from making a hideous, political decision.
 
 
0 # JayaVII 2016-02-20 19:14
True, it was a bad day all around, but Scalia was the ringleader.
 

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