Justice Scalia's legacy and the changes in store for the Supreme Court

Feb. 15, 2016


Megan McRainey

Elaine Justice


Emory University experts are available to discuss Justice Antonin Scalia’s legacy and what his absence could mean for the Supreme Court and upcoming cases.

Tom Clark, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Political Science, studies the consequences of changes to the ideological balance on the Supreme Court.  Some pending cases, such as affirmative action and public unions, are likely to end in a tied vote without Justice Scalia, says Clark.

“There are a host of very divisive cases before the Court right now, where progressives were anticipating major losses, such as in affirmative action and public unions,” says Clark. “Without Justice Scalia's vote, the most conservatives can hope for now is a tied Court, rather than an all-out victory.”

“If the Republicans in the Senate are worried about a new, progressive Democrat, they may do better bargaining with President Obama now, rather than wait for a new President who will a lot of political capital and a pressing vacancy to fill,” Clark adds.

Reach him at tclark7@emory.edu.

Robert Schapiro, Dean and Professor of Law, says that Justice Scalia was more quotable than influential.

“When it comes to learning how courts actually interpret the law, the majority opinions on which my class focuses are unlikely to be those written by Justice Scalia,” Schapiro says. “He will go down in history, in my view, as one of the most quotable justices, but not one with the deepest impact.”

Reach him at dean@law.emory.edu or 404.712.8815.

Alexander Volokh, Associate Professor of Law, says that some of Scalia’s opinions are liberal by modern standards.

“Scalia doesn’t always neatly fit into the 'conservative' pigeonhole,” Volokh says. “Scalia will be remembered for his insistence on a strong separation of powers—as the leader of the “formalist” wing of the Court. He’ll also be remembered for his instrumental role in defending textualism and originalism as ways to interpret statutes and the Constitution—an enterprise that has been so successful that even people who usually disagree with his results have signed on to his methodology.”

Reach him at svolokh@gmail.com or 404.712.5225.