By Christopher Motola and Duane Paul Murphy, Tower Staff
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away on Saturday at the age of 79. Scalia was the first Italian-American Justice nominated to the Supreme Court, and was known for his outspoken nature and originalist interpretation of the Constitution.
Justice Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1936, went to high school at Xavier High School in New York City, and later went to school at Georgetown University and Harvard Law. He was nominated by President Reagan and appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986.
Justice Scalia was a very devout Catholic. When The Catholic University of America was facing a lawsuit from George Washington University Law professor John Banzhaf over the new single-sex dorm policy in 2011, Scalia defended the policy, lamenting that “Our educational establishment these days, while so tolerant of and even insistent upon diversity in all other aspects of life seems bent on eliminating diversity of moral judgment — particularly moral judgment based on religious views”.
The Catholic University of America’s Office of Public Affairs released a statement on Monday, praising Scalia as “a man who loved his family, his faith, his country and the Constitution that established it…he offered a model for American Catholics of how we might serve both God and country”. Scalia’s relationship with The Catholic University of America does not end there. In 1994, the university awarded Scalia the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal, honoring “distinguished and meritorious service” to Church or the nation. Soon after, the university gave Scalia an honorary degree in 1999.
Today, Scalia’s body is lying in repose at the Supreme Court. Scalia’s funeral will be held on Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and is expected to be attended by Vice President Joe Biden.
In the wake of Antonin Scalia’s death, political pundits and officials are already speculating about what comes next for the Supreme Court. The two most speculated choices are Loretta Lynch and Sri Srinivasan. Lynch, who is 56 years old, is the current Attorney General under President Barack Obama and could potentially be the first African American female justice. She could also be the third African American justice along with other nominees such as Paul J. Watford, current judge of U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over the Western States. Watford is 48 years old. Sri Srinivasan, who is 48 years old, is the current Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, former Pincipal Deputy Solicitors General of the U.S. and potentially the first person of South Asian descent to serve on the SCOTUS as well as the sixth foreign born justice since he is originally from India. Two current U.S. senators, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, have been in the talks.
Whomever President Obama decides to nominate, there will undoubtedly be strong opposition from the Republican majority in Congress, who are hoping to delay an appointment until a Republican wins the Presidential election.