Constitution Week commemorates Justice Antonin Scalia’s judicial history

Photo by Cody Glassett

The Center for Constitutional Studies celebrated Constitution Week by organizing a conference commemorating Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s legacy in the United States Supreme Court. The four-hour event was held Sept. 15 in the Classroom Building.

UVU’s Center for Constitutional Studies aimed to promote a bi-partisan conference that focused on helping students understand the late Justice Scalia’s legacy. The event featured guest speakers from both sides of the political spectrum.

The event featured a number of panel discussions regarding Scalia’s judicial history. UVU students had the opportunity to listen to lectures by distinguished law and political science scholars.

“He is a controversial figure. It’s not just an opportunity to honor and cherish his memory, it’s also an opportunity to examine his legacy for good or for bad,” said Andrew Bibby, associate director of the Center of Constitutional Studies.

Scalia, who died in February, left the Supreme Court with eight current justices. This leaves a hole of uncertainty regarding how the law will move forward, due to the Senate’s inability to confirm President Barack Obama’s nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

“That’s exactly what we’ve seen happen. Think about the immigration case for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), where millions of families are living in uncertainty because of the Supreme Court; not because it ruled the other, but because it couldn’t rule at all. This has left a crucial legal issue unresolved, and it’s not only an important issue for the law,” said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. “It’s an important issue for actual people whose lives you know are deeply and profoundly impacted by the courts inability to do its job.”

Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. He was known for his originalist approach of interpreting the Constitution, as well as his conservative views on gay rights, the death penalty and abortion.

Tylor Jaymes, a philosophy major at UVU, had mixed viewpoints of Scalia. “I appreciate some of his rulings and other I just questioned. Especially, where I’m interested in international policy and how that applies to the U.S.,” said Jaymes.

Although Scalia is considered to be a controversial figure for his brash demeanor and unpopularity among progressives, scholars at the event also consider him as an influential figure in the American justice system.

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