PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died over the weekend at age 79. Jeffrey Rosen, the President of the CEO of the National Constitution Center, remembered Scalia and praised his contributions to the court and the American justice system.

During and interview with Chris Stigall on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, Rosen said that Scalia thought the Court should yield to the will of the people and not seek to overly exert itself in political issues.

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“He believed in rule by the people. He thought that unelected judges should not short circuit democratic debates and that is why, generally, he said that he was in favor of judicial restraint unless the Constitution compelled another result. Some of his most fiery, memorable dissents strike that chord. I love teaching Justice Scalia’s opinions because they are so incredibly memorable and beautifully written.”

He stated that Scalia defined interpretations of the Constitution that leave a lasting and memorable legacy behind him.

“By textualist, he meant, especially when interrupting laws passed by Congress, he would look only at the text, the words that Congress chose, and not to the legislative history, which he thought could be easily manipulated. He wasn’t a strict constructionist in the sense that if he thought that the law compelled a lenient result, he would reach that…But he also called himself an originalist. He said when the text wasn’t clear, especially when interpreting the Constitution, you should look to the original understanding of the people who wrote and ratified it. Those two contributions, textualism and originalism, were his distinct contribution to the 20th Century.”

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Rosen pointed out that Scalia was proud of his ability to separate his personal beliefs from the legal issues he routinely confronted.

“For Scalia, it was the moments that his constitutional conclusions diverged from his policy preferences that were the most important. Then he knew he was being truly principled because he insisted that for the rule of law to prevail, judges had to bind themselves with rules that forced them to reach results they may not have personally approved of. There were a lot of important cases where that was the case for him.”

 

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