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Roundup: America reacts to Justice Scalia’s death

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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 15, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- Scores of pro-life and Catholic leaders, politicians, legal voices, and others reacted with sadness, condolences, and praise in light of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday.

LifeSiteNews has included a sampling of those reactions below, including statements from sitting and retired Supreme Court justices, starting with seven of America's top politicians (including former president George W. Bush), then presidential candidates, past and sitting Supreme Court justices, and then distinctly pro-life legal, political, and Catholic voices.

Reactions from 19 top legal professors and others can be seen here, collated by POLITICO. Huffington Post has more reactions from top politicians.

U.S. President Barack Obama

"Good evening, everybody. For almost 30 years, Justice Antonin “Nino” Scalia was a larger-than-life presence on the bench — a brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, incisive wit, and colorful opinions.

"He influenced a generation of judges, lawyers, and students, and profoundly shaped the legal landscape. He will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy: The rule of law. Tonight, we honor his extraordinary service to our nation and remember one of the towering legal figures of our time.

"Antonin Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey to an Italian immigrant family. After graduating from Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, he worked at a law firm and taught law before entering a life of public service. He rose from Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel to Judge on the D.C. Circuit Court, to Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

"A devout Catholic, he was the proud father of nine children and grandfather to many loving grandchildren. Justice Scalia was both an avid hunter and an opera lover — a passion for music that he shared with his dear colleague and friend, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Michelle and I were proud to welcome him to the White House, including in 2012 for a State Dinner for Prime Minister David Cameron. And tonight, we join his fellow justices in mourning this remarkable man.

"Obviously, today is a time to remember Justice Scalia’s legacy...

"But at this moment, we most of all want to think about his family, and Michelle and I join the nation in sending our deepest sympathies to Justice Scalia’s wife, Maureen, and their loving family — a beautiful symbol of a life well lived. We thank them for sharing Justice Scalia with our country.

"God bless them all, and God bless the United States of America."

Vice-President Joe Biden:

"Jill and I send our deepest condolences to Maureen and the entire Scalia family on the loss of their beloved husband, father, and grandfather. Justice Scalia and I had fundamental disagreements about how the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, but we shared a belief that sharp debates, tough questions, and deep respect for the adversarial process was an essential part of our judicial system and our democracy. That’s how our rule of law—forged with the deep principles and convictions of justices, and laid out in majority decisions and minority dissents—becomes the model for the world. For the country, Justice Scalia will be remembered as one of our most influential justices, who inspired and challenged generations of students, clerks, lawyers, and judges. And for so many, he will be remembered as a mentor, dear friend, and a man devoted to his faith and his family, who will miss him most of all, and who we will keep in our prayers."

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-OH:

“Justice Scalia did more to advance originalism and judicial restraint than anyone in our time, and it all started with just two words: ‘I dissent.’ The passing of this brilliant jurist is a great loss, but his writings—with their plain language and constitutional moorings—will guide generations to come. A devout Catholic, he was fond of quoting St. Paul, who commanded us to ‘think soberly.’ That Justice Scalia did, always, and our republic is better for it.

“I learned so much from this man. I knew him. I respected him. I looked up to him. We all did. Tonight, Janna and I offer our sympathy and prayers to Justice Scalia’s family.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY:

"Today our country lost an unwavering champion of a timeless document that unites each of us as Americans.

"Justice Scalia's fidelity to the Constitution was rivaled only by the love of his family: his wife Maureen his nine children, and his many grandchildren. Through the sheer force of his intellect and his legendary wit, this giant of American jurisprudence almost singlehandedly revived an approach to constitutional interpretation that prioritized the text and original meaning‎ of the Constitution.

"Elaine and I send our deepest condolences to the entire Scalia family."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV:

 “There is no doubt Justice Antonin Scalia was a brilliant man. We had our differences and I disagreed with many of his opinions, but he was a dedicated jurist and public servant. I offer my condolences to his family."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA:

"Our family was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Justice Scalia, who made history as the first Italian American named to the Supreme Court. Through this community, I saw his pride in his heritage and, more importantly, his dedication to his beautiful family.

"Whether or not you agreed with him, Justice Antonin Scalia served our nation with deep patriotism and distinction on the Supreme Court for nearly 30 years.  He has been one of the strongest voices in the great American debate around our Constitution. He leaves behind a formidable record of jurisprudence, and a fierce articulation of his understanding of the Constitution.

"My sincerest prayers and condolences are with his wife, Maureen, and his family at this most difficult hour."

Former U.S. president George W. Bush:

"Laura and I mourn the death of a brilliant jurist and important American, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He was a towering figure and important judge on our Nation's highest court. He brought intellect, good judgment, and wit to the bench, and he will be missed by his colleagues and our country. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his wife, Maureen, their nine children, and the entire Scalia family."

Texas Senator and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz:

“Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia. A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history.

“As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism."

Florida Senator and GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio:

“Today, our nation has suffered a deep loss. Justice Scalia was one of the most consequential Americans in our history and a brilliant legal mind who served with only one objective: to interpret and defend the Constitution as written. One of the greatest honors in my life was to attend oral arguments during Town of Greece v. Galloway and see Justice Scalia eloquently defend religious freedom. I will hold that memory forever....Jeanette and I mourn the loss of Justice Scalia, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maureen and his family.”

Ohio Governor and GOP presidential candidate John Kasich:

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Justice Scalia and send my prayers out for his family in this difficult time.  His death is a serious loss to our nation and the Court.  He was an essential, principled force for conservative thought and is a model for others to follow.  His dedication to the Constitution and love for and service to our country will be deeply missed."

Media mogul and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump:

“I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the Scalia family after the passing of Justice Scalia. Justice Scalia was a remarkable person and a brilliant Supreme Court Justice, one of the best of all time. His career was defined by his reverence for the Constitution and his legacy of protecting Americans’ most cherished freedoms.

“He was a Justice who did not believe in legislating from the bench and he is a person whom I held in the highest regard and will always greatly respect his intelligence and conviction to uphold the Constitution of our country. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time.”

Neurologist and GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson:

"I am saddened to hear the news about Justice Antonin Scalia. We have lost a great man and a great Supreme Court Justice. For the past three decades, his towering intellect and trenchant wit has characterized the deliberations and decisions of the high court. He made Americans proud, not only because he gave to the court the power and persuasion of his brilliant legal mind, but because he defended the Constitution with an unshakeable commitment to the text and to the intent of the Founders.

"In an age where it is popular to subscribe to a 'living Constitution' and during a time when political and judicial leaders prefer legal decisions that are politically convenient, Justice Scalia always dutifully carried out his responsibilities to interpret the law, not to make new ones. Time and again, he ruled based on where the black letter of the law led him, not according to the politics of the moment. For that reason, he has angered Americans on both the left and the right, but he has never wavered in his dedication to the Constitution.

...

"We will miss him sorely. We pray for his family and friends, and we pray for America, which today lost a patriot and a faithful servant."

Former First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Justice Scalia as they mourn his sudden passing. I did not hold Justice Scalia’s views, but he was a dedicated public servant who brought energy and passion to the bench.”

Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders:

“While I differed with Justice Scalia’s views and jurisprudence, he was a brilliant, colorful and outspoken member of the Supreme Court. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his colleagues on the court who mourn his passing.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.:

"On behalf of the Court and retired Justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away. He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Maureen and his family."

Justice Anthony Kennedy:

"In years to come any history of the Supreme Court will, and must, recount the wisdom, scholarship, and technical brilliance that Justice Scalia brought to the Court. His insistence on demanding standards shaped the work of the Court in its private discussions, its oral arguments, and its written opinions.

"Yet these historic achievements are all the more impressive and compelling because the foundations of Justice Scalia’s jurisprudence, the driving force in all his work, and his powerful personality were shaped by an unyielding commitment to the Constitution of the United States and to the highest ethical and moral standards.

"In the fullness of time Justice Scalia’s beautiful family will be sustained by the force and dynamism of his intellect and personality, attributes that were so decent and so powerful; but now they mourn. We give them assurances of our deepest sympathy and our lasting friendship."

Justice Clarence Thomas:

"Justice Scalia was a good man; a wonderful husband who loved his wife and his family; a man of strong faith; a towering intellect; a legal giant; and a dear, dear friend. In every case, he gave it his all to get the broad principles and the small details right. Virginia and I are deeply saddened by his sudden and untimely death. Our prayers and love go out to Maureen and the Scalia family. It is hard to imagine the Court without my friend. I will miss him beyond all measure."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

"Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: 'We are different, we are one,' different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the 'applesauce' and 'argle bargle'—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh. The press referred to his 'energetic fervor,' 'astringent intellect,' 'peppery prose,' 'acumen,' and 'affability,' all apt descriptions. He was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader’s grasp.

"Justice Scalia once described as the peak of his days on the bench an evening at the Opera Ball when he joined two Washington National Opera tenors at the piano for a medley of songs. He called it the famous Three Tenors performance. He was, indeed, a magnificent performer. It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend."

Justice Stephen G. Breyer:

"Nino Scalia was a legal titan. He used his great energy, fine mind, and stylistic genius to further the rule of law as he saw it. He was man of integrity and wit. His interests were wide ranging as was his knowledge about law, this Nation and its Constitution. He loved his family. He also loved ideas, music, and the out of doors. He shared with us, his colleagues, his enthusiasms, his humor, his mental agility, his seriousness of purpose.  We benefitted greatly. His contribution to the law was a major one. Our hearts go out to Maureen and his family. We have lost a fine colleague and a very good friend. We shall miss him hugely."

Justice Samuel Alito:

"Martha-Ann and I are deeply saddened by the terrible news. Nino was a remarkable person, and I feel very honored to have known him and to have had him as a colleague.  He was a towering figure who will be remembered as one of the most important figures in the history of the Supreme Court and a scholar who deeply influenced our legal culture. His intellect, learning, wit, and memorable writing will be sorely missed, and Martha-Ann and I will deeply miss him as a friend. We will keep Nino, Maureen, and their family in our prayers."

Justice Sonia Sotomayor:

"My colleague Nino Scalia was devoted to his family, friends, our Court, and our country. He left an indelible mark on our history. I will miss him and the dimming of his special light is a great loss for me. My thoughts are with Maureen, his children, and his grandchildren."

Justice Elena Kagan:

"Nino Scalia will go down in history as one of the most transformational Supreme Court Justices of our nation. His views on interpreting texts have changed the way all of us think and talk about the law. I admired Nino for his brilliance and erudition, his dedication and energy, and his peerless writing. And I treasured Nino’s friendship: I will always remember, and greatly miss, his warmth, charm, and generosity. Maureen and the whole Scalia family are in my thoughts and prayers."

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (Retired):

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend and colleague, Justice Antonin Scalia. Nino was a tireless public servant who left an indelible mark on the Court and on our jurisprudence. His gifts of wisdom, wit, and wordsmithing were unparalleled, and he will be sorely missed."

Justice John Paul Stevens (Retired):

"Nino Scalia was a good friend, a brilliant man with an incomparable sense of humor, and as articulate as any Justice who ever served on the Court. He has had a major impact on the development of the law, and earned the respect of all his colleagues. We will all miss him."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA: 

“I am deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of Justice Scalia. His death is a shock to the nation. During his thirty years on the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Scalia was a steadfast defender of the Constitution, and a firm believer in the principles of our nation’s system of justice. His time on the highest court in the land will be marked by his fairness to those who presented their cases before the justices, and his passion when deciding the most pressing constitutional questions of our time. Justice Scalia was an inspiring figure to those who believed that the principles and values embodied in the United States Constitution set our great nation apart from the rest of the world. My prayers are with the Scalia family as they cope with this sudden loss.”

Senator James Lankford, R-OK: 

“The loss of Justice Antonin Scalia is a tremendous loss for the Supreme Court and for America. He was a principled Constitutionalist that provided an excellent model for how a Supreme Court Justice should evaluate a case and interpret the original intent of the law. He lived a full life of many accomplishments, including success as a lawyer and scholar, as well as a devoted husband and father.  No other Justice stood stronger for conservative principles and gave a more articulate defense for the Constitution.”

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput:

"Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of outstanding legal genius and deep Catholic faith.  I had the privilege of knowing and engaging him personally; disagreeing with him on matters like the death penalty; but agreeing with him on so many other issues and admiring his extraordinary moral integrity.  In an age of superficial executive and legislative leadership, he grounded the American project in the great and original character of the Constitution.  He will be sorely missed; but he has left an unforgettable witness of faith and reason in service to the common good.  May God grant him eternal joy, and our nation a replacement of similar moral character."

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus:

"Justice Scalia was a wise voice and strong proponent of the Constitution and American values. He was a true legend and a towering figure on the court whose acute legal mind forged a legacy of protecting our freedoms and the Constitution. His decisions will continue to shape our country for years to come and his presence will be sorely missed. I send my condolences to his wife Maureen and his nine children as we keep his entire family in our thoughts and prayers.”

Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears:

“The entire Alliance Defending Freedom team mourns the loss of a true friend of ordered liberty and of all Americans: Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia was the most vocal and passionate voice on the Supreme Court for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family over the past three decades. While we grieve his passing, we must always remember that God is in charge....All of us are thankful for Justice Scalia’s legacy of consistently standing in defense of our constitutionally protected freedoms. Please join us in prayer for the Scalia family, the entire Supreme Court family, and our nation.”

Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of Liberty Institute: 

"The country just lost a great friend of liberty and our Constitution. Justice Scalia was a man of faith, committed to judicial constraint, the Constitution, and preserving the rule of law. Always with a wonderful sense of humor, and yet a full commitment to our Constitution and proper judicial restraint, he was one of a kind. I will miss him personally, and I think our country will miss him greatly.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins:

"I join the nation in mourning the passing of Justice Scalia, a man who had a deep love for our nation, the Constitution, and as the father of nine children, was passionate about the institutions of marriage and family.

"He leaves behind a distinguished legacy that will have a lasting impact. His deep commitment to the Constitution was unmatched, especially in an era when judges have legislated from the bench and twisted the nation's charter document to justify their ideological agendas.

"Justice Scalia believed the Constitution had an objective meaning that could be understood and applied, and that as a nation we need to abide by it carefully for the sake of liberty, order, and justice.

"We offer our prayers and condolences to his family. He will be greatly missed."

Senator Steve Daines, R-MT:

“Our nation has lost a giant of freedom who leaves behind a legacy of tirelessly defending our Constitution and the principles that make our nation great. Justice Scalia was a man of faith and a brilliant legal mind who dedicated himself to our country with a servant’s heart. Cindy and I are praying for his family and are grateful for his service to our country.”

American Center for Law and Justice president Jay Sekulow:

“This is a sad day for our nation as we mourn the loss of one of the country's most brilliant and ardent supporters of the Constitution,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ.  “I had the honor and privilege of knowing Justice Scalia for the more than 25 years that I have practiced before the court. Justice Scalia had a keen understanding of what our Founding Fathers intended and dedicated his life to carrying out the rule of law. Justice Scalia will be deeply missed by so many who understood and respected his passion for justice and the rule of law.”

Professor Robert P. George, Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and founder of the American Principles Project:

“Over the course of our nation’s history, many jurists have been described as ‘towering figures in the law.’ Antonin Scalia had the distinction of being one of the handful for whom the description is actually justified.

“He preached the principle that the Constitution should be interpreted in a way that honors the text—the words on the page—and understood as the words were intended by those whose act of ratification made them the fundamental law of the land.

“Antonin Scalia was my dear friend and I shall miss him. His death is a grave loss to the Nation and a blow to the cause of fidelity to the Constitution.  My deepest condolences to his widow Maureen and to his children and grandchildren.  Requiscet in pace.”

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America:

"Concerned Women for America joins the millions around the country praying for the family of one of America's greats.  Justice Scalia was a vigorous defender of the Constitution and our liberties.  His commitment to the text of the Constitution and the Founders' intent was second to none.  Few legal minds have been able to defend the Founding Father's vision for America with more force and clarity (and humor) than Scalia. 

"His passing is an event that will be felt for many years to come.  He had one of those minds that only come once in a generation.  But his legacy will live on - a legacy that will always call us back to the Constitution - to freedom and liberty, and the highest standards as individuals and as a country. He will be greatly missed.

"For now, we mourn the loss of a great man, but soon we will begin to consider the immense implications for the Nation."

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life:

“I am saddened today to learn of the passing of a great man, a great American, and a great Justice of the Court. I have been privileged to know Antonin Scalia, and some of his family. And he was blessed with a wonderful family. He once told his sons that he would consider it such a blessing if one of them were to become a priest.  His son, Father Paul, is an exemplary Catholic priest today.

“Justice Scalia had a profound understanding of how our government -- and in particular the Supreme Court -- is supposed to work. He did not want the Court to create public policy, whether it was policy he agreed with or not. He urged people to use the political and legislative process to bring about change.

“In the days to come, let us pray for him, for his family, and for the Court and the nation he served so well. In his memory, let us strive to attain his understanding of this great Republic and to work tirelessly to preserve and expand the blessings it can be for the world.”

Tea Party Patriots President and co-founder Jenny Beth Martin:

“Our deepest condolences to the family of Justice Antonin Scalia. I had the opportunity to meet him and hear him give a speech just a few years ago. Justice Scalia’s knowledge of and love for our Constitution were beyond measure. His dedication to the original text of the Constitution inspired millions of Americans and cemented his status as one of our greatest ever Supreme Court Justices."

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