Schrödinger’s Scalia

| March 2, 2016 | 1 Comment

The Supreme Court, free at last from Scalia’s vicious grip. | 
photo credit: Joe Ravi [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Dead. He’s actually dead. But his legacy? Still very alive.

Justice Antonin Scalia passed away at the ripe age of 79 on February 13, 2016 while on a hunting trip in Texas. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, Scalia made history as the longest serving justice on the Supreme Court, though I wouldn’t say that’s the most prominent legacy he left behind. To put it in simple and civil terms, he was an intelligent and stubborn man–a true originalist who strongly believed in an antiquated interpretation of the Constitution. He believed that the Constitution should be interpreted the way the Framers had intended: withstanding society’s changes over time. Scalia’s strong conservative stance made him a great frenemy to his dissenting force on the Court: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (or RBG). Though each member of the court holds a distinct role and perspective to make the supreme team, Scalia and Ginsburg’s friendship particularly stood out because they were very close personally while also being each other’s archnemeses in the Court. They motivated each other, and in some ways, Scalia helped create our Notorious RBG.

Scalia will have a place in my heart as RBG’s bestie and for firing her up to become the dissenting queen, but that’s where my sympathies end. My real sentiments towards the Court’s conservative powerhouse are much more negative. Scalia’s real legacy is regrettably alive in the apparent elitism that plagues our society. He failed to see the value in diversity and social mobility, cutting off the bootstraps of those who fervently worked to pull themselves up. The propagation of the Second Amendment (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008), the weakening of the Voting Rights Act, accepting corporations as people to effectively corrupt campaign financing (Citizens United v. FEC, 2010)–these are just a few examples of Scalia’s disastrous influences on our government.

He took conservatism to the extreme, empowering the rich and privileged to drown out the voices of the minority. His death comes during this controversial election year–timely and tragic–and we now face a crossroad. Scalia’s replacement to complete the divine nine on the Supreme Court may tip the scale towards either end, depending on who appoints and when the appointment occurs. Regardless of who this replacement ends up being, the trend of our society leans towards progressive politics–the fight for equality, equity, and the expansion of rights. Scalia’s figurative waterboarding of minority voices has undermined the foundational principles of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness and a long battle awaits to undo the tight noose that has strangled our democracy.

In Schrödinger’s hypothetical sealed box existed a Scalia, simultaneously dead and alive. Clearly he is dead, but his ideologies remain entrenched and alive in our government. This is the paradox of Schrödinger’s Scalia. 

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Category: featured, Politics

Grace Kim

About the Author ()

Grace is a senior(!) studying Neuroscience in CAS and Global Health at the School of Public Health. She hails from the Bay Area in Northern California, which is undoubtedly hella nicer than its southern counterpart. She enjoys a good game of volleyball, a spontaneous adventures in the city, and good company balanced with plenty of alone time. She likes tea, smoothies, Korean food, bookstores, water, lemons, and sleep. She hopes to one day finish watching Breaking Bad, though she's been stuck on season 3 for 32 months.

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  1. Huey Wu Huey Wu says:

    Your living-dead paradox idea is really interesting, especially when I try to factor in Scalia’s whole approach to the Constitution as a “dead, dead, dead” document (

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