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JSPES, Vol. 42, No. 3-4 (Fall-Winter 2017)
pp. 431–442

Justice Antonin Scalia:
In Historical Perspective

Dwight D. Murphey

Wichita State University, retired

When Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States in 1980, he faced the prospect of appointing one or more justices to the United States Supreme Court. If those justices were to be true to the “conservatism” that Reagan represented, they would be faced with the question of how to deal with the intellectual atmosphere and legal precedents of much of the preceding century, which had treated the Constitution as an “evolving” blueprint amounting to an ongoing sociological experiment. Antonin Scalia, appointed in 1986 and serving almost thirty years until his death in early 2016, was one of those who grappled with meeting what we here call “the challenge of the crossroads.” How he did it is one of the more important and intriguing questions of our time. Kevin Ring has put together a compilation of what he considers Scalia’s most interesting opinions and dissents. We review the resulting book, and while doing so describe the challenge the conservative judges faced. This enables us to place Justice Scalia’s judicial career in historical perspective. His opinions on a number of subjects are examined, along with his wit, insights and inspired writing.