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Antonin Scalia Quotes That Speak To His Incredibly Significant Supreme Court Tenure

At the age of 79, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died of apparent natural causes. In what marks his 30th year of service on the Supreme Court — his initial appointment was in 1986 — Scalia leaves behind an indelible record on the U.S. judicial body. Justice Scalia quotes about his famous decisions will undoubtedly speak to seminal cases, the impact of which will reverberate endlessly, for years to come.

Justice Scalia was notably (and outspokenly) opposed to the Supreme Court's 2015 upholding of the legality of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare, in case this is you were recently born), writing a lengthy and colorful dissent against the decision. And that was hardly the only occasion on which Scalia spoke up (to put it mildly) in defense of his own opinions on every topic that crossed his bench, from reproductive rights to marriage equality to interrogation techniques. The seasoned justice's remarks were so reliably pointed and articulated in such a distinct way, in fact, that for the duration of his time on the Supreme Court, it started to feel like every decision passed came in two parts: the decision itself, and what Antonin Scalia would have to say about the decision.

Here are some of his more notable, controversial, and at times, kinda hilarious quotes:

Affordable Care Act, 2015

Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a state is "established by the State."

"Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli."

"Contrivance, thy name is an opinion of the Affordable Care Act!"

Voting Rights Act, 2013

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"I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It's been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes ... And I am fairly confident it will be re-enacted in perpetuity unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution. You have to show, when you are treating different states differently, that there's a good reason for it."


"My job is to interpret the Constitution accurately. And indeed, there are anti-abortion people who think that the Constitution requires a state to prohibit abortion. They say that the Equal Protection Clause requires that you treat a helpless human being that's still in the womb the way you treat other human beings. I think that's wrong. I think when the Constitution says that persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws, I think it clearly means walking-around persons. You don't count pregnant women twice."

Affirmative Action

“There are – there are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to ­­ to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less­-advanced school, a less – a slower-track school where they do well ... One of – one of the briefs pointed out that – that most of the – most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re – that they’re being pushed ahead in – in classes that are too ­­ too fast for them.”

Interrogation Techniques

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Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the Constitution?


"The purpose of Indiana's nudity law would be violated, I think, if 60,000 fully consenting adults crowded into the Hoosierdome to display their genitals to one another." – On allowing fully nude dancing in Indiana

Climate Change

I told you before I’m not a scientist. That’s why I don’t want to have to deal with global warming, to tell you the truth.


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“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things? I’m surprised you aren’t persuaded.”

“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”

"Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive."

Anti-Sodomy Laws

“[The Texas anti-sodomy statute] undoubtedly imposes constraints on liberty ... So do laws prohibiting prostitution, recreational use of heroin, and, for that matter, working more than 60 hours per week in a bakery.”