World & Nation

Antonin Scalia: In his own unforgettable words

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2011.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2011.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press )

Justice Antonin Scalia was known for his sharp wit and biting tongue. Here are some of his most memorable comments over the years.

“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”

     - Dissent in the Obamacare case, King vs. Burwell

“I attack ideas, I don’t attack people - and some very good people have some very bad ideas.”


      - An interview in 2008

“It isn’t a living Constitution. It’s dead! I prefer to call it an enduring Constitution.”

      - A common refrain in his standard legal lecture

“I am a textualist. I’m an originalist. I’m not a nut.”


      - An interview in 2008

“Call us the odd couple. She likes opera, and she’s a very nice person. What’s not to like? Except her views on the law.”

      - Referring to his close friendship with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, during a joint appearance in 2015 at George Washington University

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“The States may, if they wish, permit abortion on demand, but the Constitution does not require them to do so. The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.”

      - In Planned Parenthood vs. Casey in 1992

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

       - On the 2000 Bush vs. Gore decision


“To pursue the concept of racial entitlement—even for the most admirable and benign of purposes—is to reinforce and preserve for future mischief the way of thinking that produced race slavery, race privilege and race hatred. In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American.”

       - On affirmative action in the 1995 Adarand Constructors Inc. vs. Peña decision

“And the Supreme Court said, ‘Yes, it is unconstitutional.’ On the basis of—I don’t know, the sexual preference clause of the Bill of Rights, presumably. And the liberals loved it, and the conservatives gnashed their teeth.”

       - On the court’s 1996 decision in Romer vs. Evans to overturn a ban on anti-discrimination laws being extended to sexual orientation.


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