Feb 15, 2016

Remembering Justice Scalia's Faith

Ec 9:13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me.

Justice Scalia affected me deeply, as he did anyone serious about the role of law and the constitutional legitimacy of the U.S. government. My mind and heart rejoiced at the man in his wisdom and for his triumphs over many lies. The basic grounds of my strong and warm feelings are in his public opinions, which are dialectically the best of his age. I think his public legacy is not in the positive details of his legal philosophy, but in his exposure of the legal groundlessness for the blood and social ruin that our leaders have imposed in the name of various false legal principles. But these are my personal recollections of him as a Christian.

He once kindly indulged me in a conversation over cigars after a speech in St. Louis during my law school days. The high point of our conversation was a consideration of God’s providence. I suggested that if he were right in the speech he had just given, there was little chance of a restoration of constitutional law in the United States compatible with the basic principles of democratic legitimation and the rule of law that he had outlined. We are doomed to the fallen state of a willful and usurping constitutional “interpretation” that has replaced the organic norms of the people with the social engineering of a destructive elite.

But once we had reached the highest point of negative analysis, at that moment, a cheerful glow and transforming confidence radiated from him. The doom of the age, arising as it does from natural social forces, is nothing to discourage us, he said. I said, it sounded pretty discouraging. Well, he said, remember the Lord of the Rings, the little hobbit Frodo? Frodo kept walking along on his impossible task, keeping to his duty and not calculating the probabilities of his success. That’s trust in God’s providence, I remember him saying, and that’s faith. And that’s why we keep going, not because we are the biggest, or the most numerous or because we think and see how we are going to win. Our duty is to trust and continue on. But in God’s power, don’t rule us out!

I trust in God, His justice and power. God’s power operating in Justice Scalia made a great witness to the legal lies of this age and more to the power of faith. I heard from one who knew him that he sometimes struggled with the duties of his office, because of a sense of futility amidst all the heavy work for an end that seemed further and further off. But year after year, as he continued on against all odds and in the face of public scorn, I saw faith and felt encouraged to trust God as well. Thank God for the life of such a man.