Christian leaders across America are paying tribute to the Honorable United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was found dead Saturday at the age of 79 at a West Texas resort after serving the high court as a champion of life and Christian constitutional principles for nearly three decades.
Results in key cases could change with Scalia's death Read more ...
Scalia was appointed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan and has been a vocal advocate of the U.S. Constitution to protect religious liberty and other rights promoted in the Bible, such as the sanctity of human life.
“You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that,” Scalia stated in an earlier interview with a California attorney. “But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it.”
"... The biggest thing we're going to miss about [Justice Scalia], in addition to his insightful legal analysis, is his sense of humor .... He was so entertaining in the courtroom. It wasn't just that he asked very sharp, very smart questions of the advocates, but he often made jokes. A couple weeks ago when I was there he said something that caused the entire courtroom to erupt in laughter and that was something that happened all the time.
"He just had a wonderful sense of humor. And ... for those who never heard him in the courtroom doing it, you can see it often in his wonderful dissents .... It was a pleasure reading his dissenting opinions in cases, particularly because the sarcasm and wit would shine through in his written dissent ...
"It's not just me that's going to miss him, but frankly, it's very clear the liberal members of the court are going to miss him too, because they were all very good, personal friends despite their very deep differences on the Constitution and policy."
Hans von Spakovsky, The Heritage Foundation
Former counsel, Justice Department counsel
(American Family Radio, February 15, 2016)
One of America’s leading voices against abortion, National Right to Life President Carol Tobias, stressed Scalia’s importance to the pro-life movement.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia,” the pro-life leader expressed. “Justice Scalia steadfastly defended the right of elected lawmakers to enact laws that protect unborn children and their mothers and he often issued powerful critiques of the judicially manufactured barriers that limited such legislative efforts. Our thoughts and prayers are with Justice Scalia’s widow and family.”
Internationally renowned Christian leader Rev. Franklin Graham, who serves as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, shared how the late Supreme Court Justice championed biblical principles.
"[Scalia was] a strong conservative and a staunch defender of the Constitution who upheld moral values," Billy Graham’s son shared with his Facebook followers. “He was one of the justices who voted against same-sex marriage. He will be greatly missed and leaves a huge void on our Supreme Court."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a leading Republican presidential candidate, honored Scalia by calling him one of the best Justices the Supreme Court has ever had.
“Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history — Justice Antonin Scalia,” Cruz said in a statement. “A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history. As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism. And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms.”
The vocal Christian politician also urged Americans to not take his replacement lightly.
“Justice Scalia was an American hero,” Cruz proclaimed on Twitter. “We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement.”
Cruz’s rival for the Republican ticket in this year’s presidential election, former Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), corroborated what Cruz said about continuing Scalia’s legacy in the nation’s high court after honoring his mark on the U.S. Justice System.
“Today, our nation has suffered a deep loss,” Rubio stated. “Justice Scalia was one of the most consequential Americans in our history and a brilliant legal mind who served with only one objective: to interpret and defend the Constitution as written. The next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia’s unwavering belief in the founding principles that we hold dear. Jeanette and I mourn the loss of Justice Scalia, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maureen and his family.”
Campaign for Working Families Founder Gary Bauer, who also founded the Family Research Council, pointed out the serious consequences that losing such a bastion of biblical values could have on America.
“Scalia was a stalwart conservative who consistently looked at the actual words of the Constitution and the intent of the Founders in every decision he made,” Bauer released in a statement. “His passing is not only tragic for his family and those who personally knew and loved him, it has grave, obvious implications for the future of the Republic. With his passing there are now four committed liberals on the Supreme Court, three conservative justices and Justice Kennedy. President Obama will undoubtedly attempt to solidify his legacy by appointing a fifth left-wing justice, which means that a new conservative president would face a hostile court ready to strike down initiatives on issues ranging from immigration to the sanctity of life. For now we grieve the passing of this great man. On Tuesday I will report to you in detail why the Republican Senate must refuse to confirm any new justice on the eve of the presidential election that will decide the future of our country. Please join Carol and me in prayer for Justice Scalia's family and our future.”
The bold battle Scalia fought on behalf of preborn children was commemorated by Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Eric Scheidler.
“I’m most grateful to Justice Antonin Scalia for his defense of the civil rights of pro-life activists, particularly joining the 8─1 and 8─0 majorities that reversed the judgement against my father Joe in the landmark National Organization for Women v. Scheidler case,” Scheidler announced. “More recently, Justice Scalia spoke eloquently of the work of pro-life sidewalk counselors in the McCullen v. Coakley case that struck down buffer zones around abortion clinics. He will be sorely missed by those of us working to save lives on the front lines outside abortion clinics.”
Concerned Women for America President and CEO Penny Nance payed tribute to Scalia by calling him “a vigorous defender of the Constitution and our liberties" who will be greatly missed.
"His commitment to the text of the Constitution and the Founders' intent was second to none," the staunch pro-life activist said about the late Justice. “Few legal minds have been able to defend the Founding Father's vision for America with more force and clarity (and humor) than Scalia."
Also praising Scalia’s strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution was Liberty Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford.
"The country just lost a great friend of liberty and our Constitution,” Shackelford issued in a statement. “Justice Scalia was a man of faith, committed to judicial constraint, the Constitution, and preserving the rule of law. Always with a wonderful sense of humor, and yet a full commitment to our Constitution and proper judicial restraint, he was one of a kind. I will miss him personally, and I think our country will miss him greatly.”
The Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver emphasized how critical it is for America to make sure that a Justice sharing Scalia’s dedication to constitutional principles and Christian values succeeds him.
“With the passing of Justice Scalia, the future of the High Court and the future of America is hanging in the balance,” Staver, a champion of religious freedom, contended. “The Senate must not confirm any nominee to the Supreme Court from President Obama. The Senate must hold off any confirmation until the next President is seated. Unfortunately the presidential debates have been more theater and less substance about the real issues surrounding the Supreme Court. The election of the next President has now taken on even greater importance. The future of the Supreme Court and America now depends on the Senate blocking any nominee by President Obama and the people electing the right person to occupy the White House.”
Another defender of the Constitution and biblical values, American Center for Law and Justice Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, lauded Scalia for his commitment to preserve the law of the land — the way the drafters of the Constitution intended.
“This is a sad day for our nation as we mourn the loss of one of the country's most brilliant and ardent supporters of the Constitution,” Sekulow lamented. “I had the honor and privilege of knowing Justice Scalia for the more than 25 years that I have practiced before the court. Justice Scalia had a keen understanding of what our Founding Fathers intended and dedicated his life to carrying out the rule of law. Justice Scalia will be deeply missed by so many who understood and respected his passion for justice and the rule of law.”
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly impressed the toll Scalia’s death will take on America’s justice system, calling it "a blow to all Americans who believe in the rule of law and his adherence to an originalist's view of the Constitution."
“[Scalia was] one of the greatest jurists of our age," the pro-family leader continued. "He was a terrific thinker with a fluid pen. Most importantly, he was a devout believer in Jesus Christ. Many of the nation's most impressive attorneys stood before him. Now, the justice stands before the ultimate Judge of the world … [Scalia] attempted to save our Constitution. Now, his faith in his Lord and Savior has saved him."
Finding a replacement who will honor the value of human life and uphold the Constitution the way Scalia consistently did for 30 years was stressed by Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest as being a huge priority for America during this election year.
“His loss is tragic, and we hope that when it comes time for the Senate to vote on his replacement, that a worthy successor who can pick up his banner can be found after the election,” the prominent pro-life advocate stated.
Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears honored Scalia for his decades of service protecting the biblical values at the heart of the Constitution.
“The entire Alliance Defending Freedom team mourns the loss of a true friend of ordered liberty and of all Americans: Justice Antonin Scalia,” Sears announced in a statement. “Justice Scalia was the most vocal and passionate voice on the Supreme Court for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family over the past three decades. While we grieve his passing, we must always remember that God is in charge. We also note that it is unlikely that a new justice will be installed prior to the election of our next president. All of us are thankful for Justice Scalia’s legacy of consistently standing in defense of our constitutionally protected freedoms. Please join us in prayer for the Scalia family, the entire Supreme Court family, and our nation.”
Scalia’s staunch support of the fundamental liberties that Americans have embraced and enjoyed for centuries was observed by National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) President Rev. Samuel Rodriguez.
"Justice Antonin Scalia stood as a champion of life, religious liberty and limited government,” Rodriguez proclaimed in a statement. “The son of Italian immigrants, his life journey speaks to the power embedded when one reconciles faith with education. His presence on the court represented a firewall against judicial activism. His life should serve as both a reminder and a clarion call for us to be both vigilant and committed in defending our God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Also emphasizing Scalia’s devout commitment to champion the Christian values taught in the Bible was Priests for Life National Director Frank Pavone.
“I am saddened today to learn of the passing of a great man, a great American, and a great Justice of the Court,” Pavone expressed. “Justice Scalia had a profound understanding of how our government — and in particular the Supreme Court — is supposed to work. He did not want the Court to create public policy– whether it was policy he agreed with or not. He urged people to use the political and legislative process to bring about change. In the days to come, let us pray for him, for his family, and for the Court and the nation he served so well. In his memory, let us strive to attain his understanding of this great Republic and to work tirelessly to preserve and expand the blessings it can be for the world.”
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) also honored Scalia’s contribution to American jurisprudence over the decades.
“The country has suffered a tremendous loss of a true American treasure,” Sessions declared. “Justice Scalia was unquestionably one of the greatest jurists in our nation’s history. His commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law above all else was the very definition of what a judge should be. His approach was to enforce the Constitution and the law as written, not as some might wish it to be. This defends the right of the people to have their will enforced over the personal preferences of judges. His brilliant and incisive writings time and time again exposed the overreach of activist judges. Indeed, it is impossible to overstate the impact his jurisprudence has had in moving the Court towards the classical understanding of law. It is wrong to view the Court’s division as a matter of politics, at least for the orthodox judges. They found their judgment on law not politics. It is our responsibility to the American people and our Constitutional heritage to ensure that Justice Scalia’s legacy on the Court is carried on.”
U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts also mourned the passing of Scalia and lauded his contribution to the judicial system.
“I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away,” Roberts shared in a statement. “He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served.”
The front-running GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed Presbyterian, commended Scalia as being among the top Justices in American history.
“Justice Scalia was a remarkable person and a brilliant Supreme Court Justice, one of the best of all time,” Trump asserted. “His career was defined by his reverence for the Constitution and his legacy of protecting Americans’ most cherished freedoms. He was a justice who did not believe in legislating from the bench and he is a person whom I held in the highest regard and will always greatly respect his intelligence and conviction to uphold the Constitution of our country.”
A battle looms …
After President Barack Obama announced his plan to replace Scalia just moments before Saturday’s Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell contended that the Senate would not vote on any replacement the president nominates for Scalia. McConnell said that he intends on waiting to go forward with Scalia’s successor until the next president is in the White House.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell implored in a statement. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats have other plans.
“The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away,” Reid insisted in a statement on Twitter. “The Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed with Reid, indicating that sentiments about Scalia’s legacy will not hinder Obama’s agenda to fill the late Justice’s seat.
“I hope that no one will use this sad news to suggest that the President or the Senate should not perform its constitutional duty,” Leahy argued. “The American people deserve to have a full functioning Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of the United States is too important to our democracy for it to be understaffed for partisan reasons. It is only February. The President and the Senate should get to work without delay to nominate, consider and confirm the next justice to serve on the Supreme Court.”
Many Republican presidential candidates in Saturday’s GOP debate in South Carolina insisted that they will do all they can to block Obama’s plan to name Scalia’s successor — so that a replacement reflecting Scalia’s values and commitment to the Constitution will work to uphold the late Justice’s legacy.