Today, the C-FAM Interns had the proud privilege to meet esteemed conservative and Catholic Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. On the way to the meeting, two wonderful silent witnesses for prolife stood on the steps of the Supreme Court. Seeing them united for life, literally, as evident by the wedding ring on his left hand reminds me that the fight for life in America is not just one fought by high-level politicians or court meisters: it is one fought by the American citizen every single day on street corners and court steps across the nation.
As we entered the “Great Hall”, 50 other milling interns from conservative and related organizations greeted us. The meeting took place in the “Lawyers’ Lounge”, not so lounge-like when we were there but, nonetheless edged by sofas and centered by rows and rows of chairs. Supreme Court Justice Scalia entered the room to us, the silent standing crowd of interns, and jump shot right to the podium, where he greeted us with his signature charisma. A lively and at times humorous man, Scalia seemed far more approachable in person than in the news. He proceeded to brief us for about 15 minutes. According to Scalia, what makes the US different from any other country in the world is not its Bill of Rights. Apparently, even Soviet Russia had a seemingly attractive Bill of Rights. Rather, as he pointed out, the US is different from other countries because it executes its Bill of Rights. The founders set up a “gridlock” system, slow to legislate, but effective in maintaining a reputable country set on upholding its own Bill of Rights. Questions proceeded, and a girl asked the “famous Scalia question”: how does your Faith factor into your politics, or your practice as Supreme Court Justice of the US? His answer concluded that the only commandment that he really applied to his politics was 7, or, “thou shalt not lie”.
He did, however, claim that he would not stand for any law that was downright evil. In the example of Capital Punishment, he claimed that he did not see anything in the law which conflicted with Catholic teaching; however, if the time came in which he did, then he would have to resign because he would be unable to effectively protect laws if he disagreed with them. His primary point was that he, as a judge, was a judge, not a legislator. He does not make the laws. He protects them. Questions proceeded, and he proceeded to talk about how a balanced life is essential to a lawyer. He says, in order to effectively practice law, one must not be in the office all day grinding out “bill-able hours”; rather, one must balance family or civic time with his job. Scalia also mentioned that his large family was a source of blessing in his life.