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Scalia, Antonin, 1936–2016, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1986–2016), b. Trenton, N.J. He graduated from Harvard Law School (1960) and subsequently taught law at the Univ. of Virginia (1967–71) and the Univ. of Chicago (1977–82). In 1982 President Reagan named him to the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and four years later he was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, taking the seat vacated when William Rehnquist ascended to the position of chief justice. An outspoken conservative, Scalia was a prominent proponent of “textualism,” the idea that one should focus on the text of the U.S. constitution or a law, and “originalism,” which stresses that jurists should rely on the constitution's meaning as defined by its framers at the time of its adoption when seeking to interpret it and that decisions of judges should be based on that original meaning, a position enunciated in his book A Matter of Interpretation (1997). He is regarded as one of the most influential justices of the late 20th and early 21st cent. Though he was willing to overturn (often liberal) precedents and was one of the most conservative members of the Court's right wing, Scalia sometimes took more libertarian positions, for example, protecting flag burning as a form of free speech.
See C. J. Scalia (his son) and E. Whelan, ed., Scalia Speaks (2017); biographies by J. Biskupic (2009) and B. A. Murphy (2014).
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Scalia, Antonin(1936– ) Supreme Court justice; born in Trenton, N.J. He practiced law (1960–67) and taught (1967–71) before joining the Nixon administration as executive counsel (1971–77). President Reagan named him to the U.S. Court of Appeals (1982–86) and to the U.S. Supreme Court (1986).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.