Quote of the Day:
The English have a saying that certain politicians “make the weather,” by which they mean that they change the political climate and force others to react to their vision. Antonin Scalia made the weather on the Supreme Court of the United States for 30 years.
–John McGinnis in City Journal
John McGinnis writes that when he entered the academy 25 years ago, the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted based on text and intent was a widely mocked notion. Scalia changed that and now law students pay more attention to the text and intent of the Framers than before Justice Scalia.
The Constitution, which, as James Madison wrote, was designed to pit “ambition against ambition” was supposed to be powerful enough to enforce contracts and defend property, and yet as McGinnis writes, not have the authority to become tyrannical. The Constitution and the federal government had limited power over our lives. Scalia preserved the original limitations on what this intricately reasoned Enlightenment document should do.
But now the Scalia legacy is in jeopardy.
If the last sentence makes you think only of the coming battle to fill Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court, then you don't realize how much ideals of the Constitution and limited government have come under attack in our society. McGinnis writes:
Today, the ideal of limited government is under attack in both parties. A socialist has won several Democratic primaries and caucuses. The Republican front runner’s only real objection to big government is that he’s not running it. The possibility of objective rules and standards like those aspired to in our Constitution is under renewed attack on our university campuses. So is the free exchange of ideas. Scalia did great work, but his legacy will be preserved only if the republic can find new political champions of Enlightenment values who can make the case clearly, succinctly, and in fidelity to the Constitution’s original meaning. Originalists need again someone who can make the weather.