Unlike the doves he had just finished killing at the luxury Cibolo hunting lodge in Texas, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died of natural causes.
I have sincerely tried to not dance on his grave in the hours immediately following the announcement. Death is death, and there are humans in mourning.But with each attempt at decency and decorum, some other emotion tugs at my heart. At last, I have identified it. Relief.
I feel like I imagine a Dustbowl Okie must, upon seeing the skies open, releasing torrential rain to end a 29 year drought.
I feel like the mother of a teenage boy in a Chicago neighborhood must have felt when they finally ended John Wayne Gacy’s run of rape and murder.
Surely the citizens of New York were exhaling in this same tension-relieving peace, when the Son of Sam was finally caught.
The emotion? Finally… He can do no more harm.
Whatever genius he possessed was, in his later years, overshadowed by a gleefully unapologetic, galling partisan favoritism. His supposedly strict constructionist rulings stood more and more as textbook cases of motivated reasoning. He famously told anyone asking for explanations of the legal reasoning behind “Bush v. Gore” to “Get over it!” The logical gymnastics required to rule, in a dissent, that a Cross is not a religious symbol, but rather a solemn grave marker, surely made dead Muslims, Jews and atheists equally sick. And who can forget his involvement in the “Citizens United,” the case equating Speech with Money, and People with Corporations. Then of course is “Burwell v Hobby Lobby” in which Scalia played a strong role in saying corporations exercise religious practices.
Yes, it’s a subtle distinction to say I am not happy that Justice Scalia died, but rather I am relieved that he can wreak no more havoc upon our nation. But that distinction stands, and is as valid as any opinion he ever offered.
Justice Scalia’s death will be remembered as his greatest act of judicial relief.