Pundit, author, Constitutional law expert, and former appellate court clerk Ann Coulter joined host Stephen K. Bannon on a Breitbart News Radio special Saturday night to discuss the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Coulter said Scalia was a giant of the court because he “changed the way people see Constitutional law, and think about Constitutional law, more than any other Justice I can think of.”
“The Court was, as it should be, kind of a boring institution for nearly 200 years,” Coulter explained. “And then, the Left figured out that — not by any Constitutional framework, but simply by the fact that the Supreme Court gets the last word, they decide cases — liberals realized, ‘Oh, shoot, we can’t get Americans to agree with our crazy ideas, but hey, I bet we could get five Justices to agree!’”
The Left was thus able to transform the Supreme Court into “a sort of super-legislature of elderly lawyers” who began “suddenly discovering non-existent rights in the Constitution.” Coulter wistfully suggested conservatives should try putting a real activist Justice on the Court, to discover conservative-leaning “rights” to a flat tax, charter schools, personal possession of automatic weapons, or “free champagne for blondes” (possibly a self-interested suggestion) just to give liberals a taste of their own medicine.
Coulter praised Scalia for going beyond pointing out the absurdity of left-wing activist Court decisions, explaining why they were wrong in a clear and witty manner. She stressed the importance of Scalia’s humor to keep readers engaged, comparing it to presidential candidate Donald Trump’s use of humor to hold an audience.
“We used to wait for his opinions to come out, particularly the dissents, and read them over dinner… and quote from them for months on end, his particularly hilarious lines” Coulter said of Scalia’s jurisprudence.
She cited Scalia’s dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey as a particular favorite, mourning the way other Republican-nominated judges such as David Souter, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Anthony Kennedy would so often betray the conservative base. While Coulter said all of Scalia’s writing was “very clear and very strong,” his dissents were especially energetic. “Usually when he was writing a dissent, he’d gotten kinda fed up with the other Justices, and he would just let loose,” she chuckled.
Scalia’s opinions offered “a clear, simple, and I think incontestable description of what Justices are supposed to be doing, which is interpreting the Constitution” in Coulter’s estimation. “How do you do that? You read the Constitution. If there’s any confusion about this or that word — well, how did people understand that word at the time?”
This is the essence of Constitutional originalism, and with Scalia’s death, America has lost one of the greatest originalists. “If you get away from originalism, there is nothing to tether a Supreme Court Justice to anything other than his personal opinion,” said Coulter. “So what Scalia would look at is, first the words of the Constitution, and then the pattern secondarily — and, if necessary, the patterns and practices at the time.”
For example, in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, Scalia noted the Constitution says nothing about abortion, and the practice was criminalized for about a century after the Constitution was ratified, so it was extremely unlikely the Founders would have considered it a Constitutional right. Similar thinking illuminated Scalia’s view of the Second Amendment, drafted at a time when the Founders were strongly convinced the people should be armed with effective, military-equivalent weapons to resist tyrannical government, as they themselves had done.
Coulter credited Scalia with helping lower court judges, law students, and even much of the general public to understand originalist thinking. She found it much easier to follow than the intellectual mush served up by activist Justices. “I remember in law school, you’d read through some of these opinions from Justice Brennan, and you just can’t follow it,” she recalled. “The truth is inherently appealing. And what Scalia was pushing was the truth.”
As for Scalia’s prospective replacement on the Supreme Court, Coulter thought “the only reason these craven coward Republicans in Washington” would refuse to confirm an Obama nominee was because of Donald Trump’s presidential run, because the Republicans know if they “screw us over one more time, on something as big as this, Trump gets another ten million voters right there.”
Coulter was emphatic that President Obama should not fill the seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. “He’s got, like, ten months left in office. No, no, no, no, no. Oh, no. And especially Scalia.”