Last updated on: 12/6/2016 | Author:

Antonin Scalia, JD Biography

Former Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court
Pro to the question "Should the Death Penalty Be Legal?"

“While my views on the morality of the death penalty have nothing to do with how I vote as a judge, they have a lot to do with whether I can or should be a judge at all. To put the point in the blunt terms employed by Justice Harold Blackmun towards the end of his career on the bench, when I sit on a Court that reviews and affirms capital convictions, I am part of ‘the machinery of death.’ My vote, when joined with at least four others, is, in most cases, the last step that permits an execution to proceed. I could not take part in that process if I believed what was being done to be immoral…

In my view the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation, rather than simply ignoring duly enacted, constitutional laws and sabotaging death penalty cases. He has, after all, taken an oath to apply the laws and has been given no power to supplant them with rules of his own. Of course if he feels strongly enough he can go beyond mere resignation and lead a political campaign to abolish the death penalty-and if that fails, lead a revolution. But rewrite the laws he cannot do.”

“God’s Justice and Ours,” First Things, May 2002

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Former Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, 1986–2016
  • Judge, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 1982–1986
  • Chairman, Conference of Section Chairmen, American Bar Association, 1982–1983
  • Chairman, Section of Administrative Law, American Bar Association, 1981–1982
  • Professor of Law, University of Chicago and Visiting Professor of Law at Georgetown University and Stanford University, 1977–1982
  • Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, 1974–1977
  • Chairman, Administrative Conference of the United States, 1972–1974
  • General Counsel, Office of Telecommunications Policy, 1971–1972
  • Professor of Law, University of Virginia, 1967–1971
  • Private practice, Cleveland, Ohio, 1961–1967
  • Sheldon Fellow, Harvard University
  • LLB, Harvard Law School
  • BA, Georgetown University and the University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Nominated by President Ronald Reagan, confirmed by Senate, 1986
  • He died on Feb. 13, 2016
Quoted in:
  1. Should the Death Penalty Be Abolished Because Innocent People May Be Executed?
  2. Is the Death Penalty Immoral?