I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…
Did Barack Obama order Antonin Scalia murdered so he could replace him with a socialist Muslim?
Was he smothered, as maybe our next President, Donald Trump, implied when suggesting “a pillow on his face” was “a pretty unusual place to find a pillow?”
Was the ghost of Mr. Spock the hand behind the pillow?
Or — my personal favorite — did he fail to call his doctor after an erection that lasted longer than four hours?
The conspiracy theories abound, in a way they never would had the dead Justice been another member of the Court. Nobody would have considered an autopsy of Justice Clarence Thomas, whose record of utterances from the high bench suggest he may have been already long dead.
A couple of forensic investigators who really are a couple in my neck of the woods, Dean and Karen Beers, analyzed the death of Scalia and issued their own report on it. And while they cautioned that their analysis is based solely on media reports, that’s gotta be at least as respectable as the Texas judge who decided over the phone how Scalia died. No heartbeat? Yup, he’s dead all right.
The Beers point out that in Texas, a justice of the peace normally determines whether an autopsy should be done, and certifies deaths. These folk need neither training nor experience — not in law, not in medicine, not even in dead people — to do this. At the time of Scalia’s death, both the local justices of the peace were gone fishing. That left the determination to the even less qualified (if such a thing is possible) county judge. I love Texas; my mother was born in Texas.
The Beers also point out that you don’t need a conspiracy to explain Scalia’s death. He was old and fat. “There are no persons,” they write, “79 years old in perfect health.” He also had a history of heart trouble, high blood pressure, and general weakness. My personal observation is that Scalia always felt he was the smartest person in the room (and maybe he was), and that feeling can irritate a fellow and briefen his prospects for long life.
The Beers say that while the reported circumstances of Scalia’s death would not generally have resulted in a forensic investigation and autopsy, because Scalia was so public a government figure, perhaps it should have. Scalia now belongs to the Ages, and the Ages deserve to know how he left us.
Four Presidents of the United States have died in office of what was described as natural causes.
William Henry Harrison died of a big mouth: gave the longest Inaugural Address in history in wet and freezing weather without benefit of hat, coat, or gloves. Assured himself of the shortest term in history, dying a month later of pneumonia.
Zachary Taylor ate a contaminated cherry from a tree a predecessor did not chop down.
Warren Harding became the first President to travel to Alaska, and the trip supposedly killed him. Still, there were rumors that somebody slipped something into the Prohibition President’s whiskey, and because his wife was one of those gossips and refused to allow an autopsy, I’m pretty sure ’twas beauty killed the beast.
Franklin Roosevelt came into office sick, got sicker over four terms, and died sickest.
None of those guys was autopsied anytime close to his death. Only one, Zachary Taylor, was autopsied at all — one hundred forty-one years after his death. No arsenic, yet some sons of sons of sons of sons of sons of the South still believe he was poisoned.
The Beers report is here.
It wasn’t his death, but his life, that defined Antonin Scalia. He was an arrogant son of a bitch, but a magnificent son of a bitch. Another son of a bitch, not nearly so magnificent, unconsciously — so much of his intelligence seems unconscious — pointed to Scalia’s irreplaceability, when Mitch McConnell announced the Senate won’t even consider a nominee this year.
Scalia championed the right of a person to carry a gun into a movie theater, much as he himself had carried a rifle on the subway from Queens to Manhattan for high school ROTC training. He seemed to forget that ROTC was closer akin to a well regulated militia than to an unbalanced individual with a grudge against the world.
He felt homosexuality should be subject to the popular prejudices he grew up with, that the democratic process should decide what human rights are accorded to what groups of humans. So he derided a court majority that said gay people ought not to be thrown in prison for consensual sex. He railed that the Court “has largely signed on to the…homosexual agenda…directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.” Now there’s an originalist view that might have found boon companionship with that opposing the Jewish agenda in early twentieth-century Germany.
He also said the Court’s decision would open the floodgates to overturn “laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity.”
“This effectively decrees” Scalia wailed, “the end of all morals legislation.
“If, as the Court asserts, the promotion of majoritarian sexual morality is not even a legitimate state interest, none of the above-mentioned laws can survive rational- basis review.”
One can only hope.
On that question of same-sex marriage, Scalia declared the issue “is not of immense personal importance to me,” while again suggesting that those, to whom it is indeed of immense personal importance, ought to continue to be dehumanized by majority rule.
Majority rule did not seem to hold much importance for Scalia when he voted to stop counting the votes in Florida in the 2000 Gore v. Bush election. Asked about the contradiction by one of my law school classmates in 2005, Scalia chided the impertinent student. “Get over it,” he said, as he repeatedly said to others who would ask.
Well, goodbye Justice Scalia.
I’m over it.