July 12, 2017
Antonin Gregory Scalia, was born on March 11, 1936, in Trenton, New Jersey, the only child of Eugene and Catherine Scalia. His father, who had emigrated from Sicily as a young man, was a professor of Romance languages at Brooklyn College. His mother, a school teacher, was one of eleven children of Italian immigrants. He grew up in Queens, where he played stickball, rooted for the Yankees, and joined the Boy Scouts. He was valedictorian of the Xavier High Class of 1953 and valedictorian of the Georgetown University class of 1957. He attended Harvard Law School, where he earned high honors and was a Notes Editor for the law review.
While at Harvard, Scalia went on a blind date with a Radcliffe student named Maureen McCarthy. They wed in 1960. Scalia then studied in Europe for a year as Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University before working at the law firm of Jones Day in Cleveland from 1961 to 1967. He left private practice to become a professor of law at the University of Virginia from 1967 to 1971, and then served in a number of government positions: general counsel of the Office of Telecommunications Policy from 1971 to 1972, chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States from 1972 to 1974, and assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice from 1974 to 1977.
He returned to academic life in 1977, joining the faculty at the University of Chicago. He was also visiting professor of law at both Georgetown and Stanford, and was chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section of Administrative Law from 1981 to 1982 and its Conference of Section chairmen from 1982 to 1983.
In 1982, President Reagan nominated Scalia to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Four years later, Reagan nominated him to the Supreme Court of the United States, to which he was confirmed by the Senate, 98-0. Justice Scalia took his seat on the bench on September 26, 1986.
As a Supreme Court justice, Scalia articulated and exercised the interpretive methods of originalism and textualism. He established himself as a forceful presence on the bench, a vivid and compelling writer, and a gregarious public presence. One of the most significant justices in the history of the Court, he served for nearly thirty years before his death on February 13, 2016.
Antonin Scalia was married to Maureen for fifty-five years. Together they had nine children and dozens of grandchildren. He was a loving husband, a devoted father, a devout Catholic, and a proud American.
Christopher J. Scalia, the eighth of Justice Scalia’s nine children and a former professor of English, works at a public relations firm near Washington, D.C. His book reviews and political commentary have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Weekly Standard, and elsewhere. He lives in Virginia with his wife and three children.
Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is a former law clerk to Justice Scalia. He is a leading commentator on the Supreme Court and on issues of constitutional law. A father of four, he lives with his family in the D.C. area.