President Reagan with newly appointed Justice Scalia (1986

Scalia's Educational/General Background

Scalia enrolled in St. Francis Xavier, a military prep school in New York, where he managed to graduate first in his class. He then went to Georgetown University where he completed his undergraduate studies and received a bachelors degree, summa cum laude, in history. He also graduated from the university as valedictorian. He then attended Harvard Law, where he served as editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude.

Career Background

In 1986, President Reagan promoted William H. Rehnquist to the position of chief justice in the wake of the retirement of Warren Burger. This created a vacancy in the Supreme Court. To fill this vacancy, Reagan nominated Scalia. The political focus on Rehnquist's nomination drew all the attention away from Scalia, so most democrats didn't even put up a serious fight.

Public Service: He was a lawyer in the 1960s, and he also worked in public service in the 1970s with roles in President Nixon’s general counsel and as the Assistant Attorney General. In the 1980s he became a part of President Ronald Reagan’s Court of Appeals.

Judicial Ideology

Scalia's pursuit of strict interpretation, judicial restraint, and bright-line distinctions in the law has led him to surprising votes in his years on the bench. He has puzzled or pleased many conservatives and liberals by voting consistently in favor of free speech. Scalia provided the critical fifth vote, much to the dismay of conservative activists, in striking down a Texas flag- burning prohibition. He also ruled that a St. Paul, Minnesota, prohibition against hate crimes violated freedom of speech. On the issue of reproductive rights, Scalia has labored mightily to strike down Roe v. Wade. He has consistently rejected any notion of a right to abortion under the Constitution, arguing always that such matters constituted political decisions best decided by the popular branches of government.

For the most part, Antonin Scalia leaned mostly to the side of conservative rulings (of course he ruled with some liberal leanings in certain cases but the predominant decision was conservative).

Significant Cases

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores (Free exercise of religion; Voted with Liberal Majority)

Mccullen v. Coakley (Abortion; Voted with Conservatives)

Riley v. California (Searches and Seizures; Voted with Liberal Majority)

Lane v. Franks (First Amendment; Sided with Conservatives)

Clark v. Rameker (Civil Rights/Voting; Sided with Conservatives)