Alicia Kysar is a senior at Columbia University studying English and Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law.
During Justice Antonin Scalia’s tenure on the Supreme Court, he authored many contentious and heavily conservative opinions. Thus, when he passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, many liberals celebrated his death, or at least his future absence on the Court.  As a political liberal, I am fascinated by the political implications of the absence of one of the most polarizing justices on the Supreme Court just months before the most polarizing presidential election in decades; moreover, I am excited for upcoming cases in which the political bend of the Court will be swayed. However, while I cannot name a single one of his decisions that I agree without major reservations, I mourn the passing of Antonin Scalia as a scholar of the Constitution.
Scalia’s constitutional theory was old-fashioned, but his titanic personality and intellect brought it back into style—and public debate—during his tenure as an associate justice. Constitutional originalism, the idea that judges should interpret the Constitution solely based on its meaning at the time it was written, had been popular during the mid-twentieth century; by the time President Reagan nominated Scalia to the Court, however, the theory had fallen out of favor with most legal theorists.  Scalia came into the public eye with his variation on originalism: rather than scouring it for intent, constitutional scholars and judges should instead base their decisions on the original meaning of the words in the text.