TIME Supreme Court

These Are Some of Justice Scalia’s Most Colorful Quotes

Justice Antonin Scalia left behind a legacy of provocative opinions

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died Saturday at the age of 79, leaving behind a long list of provocative opinions and colorful quotes.

The influential conservative had a 30-year legacy on the Supreme Court. Scalia wrote his decisions with an intellect and wit that many applauded, and they provide an insightful read into Scalia’s legal logic.

Below are some of the most colorful quotes from Justice Scalia’s time on the Supreme Court.

From his opinion on the Affordable Care Act

“This case requires us to decide whether someone who buys insurance on an Exchange established by the Secretary gets tax credits. You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it.”

“The Court’s next bit of interpretive jiggery-pokery involves other parts of the Act that purportedly presuppose the availability of tax credits on both federal and state Exchanges.”

From his opinion on Gay Marriage

“If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

On law making

“This case, involving legal requirements for the content and labeling of meat products such as frankfurters, affords a rare opportunity to explore simultaneously both parts of Bismarck’s aphorism that ‘No man should see how laws or sausages are made.'”

On the 2000 Election and Bush V. Gore

“Well, I guess the one that created the most waves of disagreement was Bush v. Gore. That comes up all the time, and my usual response is ‘get over it.”

On Affirmative Action

”I have developed a modest proposal, which I call R.J.H.S. – the Restorative Justice Handicapping System. I only have applied it thus far to restorative justice for the Negro, since obviously he has been the victim of the most widespread and systematic exploitation in this country; but a similar system could be devised for other creditor-races, creditor-sexes or minority groups.”

”Under my system each individual in society would be assigned at birth Restorative Justice Handicapping Points, determined on the basis of his or her ancestry. Obviously, the highest number of points must go to what we may loosely call the Aryans – the Powells, the Whites, the Stewarts, the Burgers, and in fact (curiously enough), the entire composition of the present Supreme Court, with the exception of Justice Marshall. ‘Justices Would Not Shrink'”

“I think it unnecessary to describe the Restorative Justice Handicapping System any further. I trust you find it thoroughly offensive, as I do. It, and the racist concept of restorative justice of which it is merely the concrete expression, is fundamentally contrary to the principles that govern, and should govern, our society. I owe no man anything, nor he me, because of the blood that flows in our veins.”

From a 1995 speech at Stanford University

“Words do have a limited range of meaning, and no interpretation that goes beyond that range is permissible.”

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