Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the bench’s ideological conservative known for his fiery comments in and out of the courtroom, has died. He was 79.
Scalia was “a brilliant legal mind with a pugnacious style, incisive wit, and colorful opinions,” President Barack Obama said Saturday night. “He will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court.”
Scalia was found dead at a Texas ranch on Saturday morning when he did not appear for breakfast, the U.S. Marshals Service in Washington told The Associated Press.
“Abortion, homosexual conduct … Nobody ever thought that they had been included in the rights contained in the Bill of Rights,” he said once.
The nation’s first Italian-American justice, Scalia didn’t sugarcoat his often blunt dissents.
But it was his comments over the years on gay rights that often caused the biggest waves: When the high court legalized gay marriage nationwide last June, Scalia said in his dissent: “Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms?”
“And if intimacy is, one would think that Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie,” he wrote.
His candor wasn’t limited to the four walls of the high court. During a 2012 visit to Princeton University, a gay freshman asked Scalia about a comparison he had drawn in the past between banning sodomy and banning bestiality and murder.
“If we cannot have moral feelings against or objections to homosexuality, can we have it against anything?” Scalia said in response to the question, according to The Daily Princetonian.