Now Isn't The Time To Criticize Scalia

by Abby Johnston

As arguably the most divisive figure on the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia not only offered a lot of opinions — he inspired them, too. The New York Times called him "a leader of a conservative intellectual renaissance," and certainly he led a dogged fight against many key issues for progressives. But even if you didn't believe in his interpretation of the law — even if you're vehemently opposed to it — now is not the time to lay into Antonin Scalia.

Inevitably, Scalia's death will be politicized. The country is already in the thick of election insanity, and just hours after the news broke both conservatives and liberals turned to their focus to who should nominate Scalia's replacement, if anyone President Obama could put up would stand a chance, and what his death means for the upcoming Supreme Court decisions. There's a lot of wargaming to be done. That's politics, as crass as it may seem.

But there is a particular ire that's popped up in the immediate wake of Scalia's death that is even worse than plotting for any political gain. Immediately after the news of Scalia's death broke, Twitter, being Twitter, was filled with celebratory tweets.

You can make a laundry list of the negative things that Scalia has done: he's been a consistent and unapologetic foe of LGBT rights, he continually folded racism into his legal interpretations, he was poised to make a detrimental impact on abortion access. But joy over the death of a husband and father of nine isn't just classless, it's inhumane.

Apparently we've reached such a polarized point in American politics that we've been stripped us of emotion. Scalia, for liberals, represented the epitome of powerful and destructive policy because he was a firm believer in a deeply conservative interpretation of the law. And yes, he helped ruin many peoples' lives.

But imagine how people might feel if, say, Scalia's longtime friend Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died and conservatives (as, yes, they will probably do) immediately begin to twirl on her grave. It would seem coldhearted, wouldn't it? It would be hard to stomach for liberals, because she has fought for a lot of progressive causes and values. It's sad that we've reached a point in which we only feel sympathy for people we agree with.

Not celebrating Scalia's death doesn't mean you have to mourn, either.

But celebrating the loss of human life over political matters shouldn't be condoned. Yes, Scalia was a hardline conservative and a blight on progress. But he was also a human.