FILE - In this Wednesday, April 7, 2004 file photo, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks to Presbyterian Christian High School students in Hattiesburg, Miss. On Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, the U.S. Marshall's Service confirmed that Scalia has died at the age of 79. (Gavin Averill/The Hattiesburg American via AP)
Photo: Gavin Averill
Photo: Gavin Averill

Antonin Scalia: 5 of his most famous decisions

Following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Saturday, friends and foes alike are remembering some of his most important decisions.

Scalia, 79, was one of the most conservative justices the court has seen, and favored “originalism” or the theory that decisions on Supreme Court cases should be made by trying to understand the reasoning  behind those who drafted  and ratified the Constitution.

Here are some of Scalia's most famous decisions

Bush v. Gore – The Court’s 2000 decision which stopped the recount of presidential ballots in Florida – a decision which nudged the election in favor of Bush – was perhaps Scalia’s most famous vote. According to those who knew him, it was a decision he tired of talking about. The Washington Post reported that in later years, Scalia was supposed to have told people who still wanted to talk about the outcome to, “Get over it.” Of the decision he wrote: “The counting of votes that are of questionable legality does in my view threaten irreparable harm to [Bush], and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election.

District of Columbia v. Heller –  A Second Amendment case in which he wrote the majority opinion, Scalia said in District of Columbia v. Heller that the right to bear arms extends  to people, not just the “militia”  as the amendment reads. Scalia wrote that the Constitution, “surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”

Lawrence v. Texas – He wrote the dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, a case that struck down a state sodomy law. He warned at the time that the decision would lead to legalization of same-sex marriage. “A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy,” he wrote in dissent.

Crawford v. Washington – Scalia wrote for the majority in the case that said “testimonial” statements by witnesses who are not available to speak in court, cannot be used as evidence in court unless the defendant’s lawyer had an opportunity prior to the trial to cross examine that person.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey –  Scalia believed there  was no constitutional right to an abortion and was outspoken against it. He wrote in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that, “The States may, if they wish, permit abortion on demand, but the Constitution does not require them to do so. The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.”

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