Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump responded Saturday to the passing of pro-life Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and said he was :one of the best of all time” and applauded him for not “legislating from the bench.”
Scalia was found dead at the age of 79 earlier in the day. Scalia is one of the minority of judges on the nation’s highest court who is pro-life and supports overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortions.
“Justice Scalia was a remarkable person and a brilliant Supreme Court Justice, one of the best of all time,” Trump said.
“His career was defined by his reverence for the Constitution and his legacy of protecting Americans’ most cherished freedoms,” Trump continued. “He was a justice who did not believe in legislating from the bench and he is a person whom I held in the highest regard and will always greatly respect his intelligence and conviction to uphold the Constitution of our country.”
The presidential candidate, who has been campaigning himself as a pro-lifer, says Scalia death is a “massive setback” for the conservative cause.
The totally unexpected loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a massive setback for the Conservative movement and our COUNTRY!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2016
Last month, Trump said America has gone astray because it has moved away from the founding principles the nation’s founders put in most — most notably the right to life.
America, when it is at its best, follows a set of rules that have worked since our Founding. One of those rules is that we, as Americans, revere life and have done so since our Founders made it the first, and most important, of our “unalienable” rights.
Over time, our culture of life in this country has started sliding toward a culture of death. Perhaps the most significant piece of evidence to support this assertion is that since Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Count 43 years ago, over 50 million Americans never had the chance to enjoy the opportunities offered by this country. They never had the chance to become doctors, musicians, farmers, teachers, husbands, fathers, sons or daughters. They never had the chance to enrich the culture of this nation or to bring their skills, lives, loves or passions into the fabric of this country. They are missing, and they are missed.
Scalia frequently talked about his views on abortion and the high court case that allowed for unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy for any reason.
“You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it,” he said in an interview previously with California Lawyer.
For those wanting to make abortion legal, “Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.”
Scalia often reiterated his position that the Constitution’s 14th Amendment doesn’t guarantee equal protection for women in a way that could be construed as allowing abortion on demand.
Scalia told the California Lawyer publication that, while the amendment doesn’t offer equal protection for women, state legislatures are free to legislate such protections. He said the amendment, when it was adopted, was not intended to offer legal protection for women. Abortion advocates have used it to constitutionally justify legal abortions.
“Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex,” Scalia said. “The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that.”
“If indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society,” he said. “If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box.”
Scalia was considered to be one of the four justices most likely to support overturning Roe if a case reached the high court. Justice Clarence Thomas has also publicly expressed his desire to overturn the 1973 decision.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito have already issued one abortion opinion overturning a previous Supreme Court decision allowing partial-birth abortions and overturning a partial-birth abortion ban claiming it required a health exception. Their decision to reverse and affirm Congress’ findings that abortion is never necessary to protect women’s health is seen as an indication they may be willing to overturn Roe as well.
Together, the four comprise a minority of four justices compared with the pro-abortion majority for Roe, which includes Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has gone along with limits on abortion but has not shown any indication he would side with those favoring overturning Roe.