out to you as one of his most influential decisions? >> corporate versus washington in which he expanded the role of a jury in criminal cases. there is really -- it is really quite important because it cuts against the image of a judicial conservative who would be pro-prosecution, pro-law and order. his deal was the constitution requires proof of all of the elements of a criminal offense and sentence, beyond a reasonable doubt, tends to let judges decide they are unconstitutional. it changed criminal procedure around the country. you have to remember that he voted that there is a person who has the right to burn the american flag. it's very uncongenial to hill.
his opinion in employment versus smith continues to cast a shuj shadow over the law of religious freedom. it was the reason the religious freedom restoration act was passed and that dominated the court's religious freedom indications since then, including the cases that are coming before the court this term, the obama contraceptive mandate. the truth is that his landmark opinions are almost too many to try to even count. in every area, he has made a contribution that was original and, you know, had influence with his colleagues. >> let's bring al jazeeras's washington correspondent back in, mike vick vi vig viing /* / viqueira. this will become a point that many will raise specifically today, of course, we've got the debate tonight, the republicans. what do you think we are going
to hear? mike viqueira, are you still with us on the phone? >> i am here. can you hear me? >> yes. can you hear me? >> yes. i was just saying it seems almost premature or perhaps even unseemly to talk about politics, the professor outlying the significance, the substance of the signifcas over 30 years there. i come from an italian american family. i remember my grandfather people withing with pride when antonin scalia became the first italian american on the supreme court. this is going to be a political football from this moment forward over the next 7 months.
ted cruz already with a statement calling him quote one of the greatest justices in history t you remember ironically enough in 1986, scalia was easily confirmed an appointee or nominee of ronald reagan. when william rehnquist was elevated to chief justice. that was one of the last of the easy confirmations given indegreesing polarization we have seen if you think of the robert borke fight and the clarence thomas, the explosive battles, not making it to the court, not being confirmed, thomas after a very contentious set of hearings, ultimately cogfirmed. but, you know, i think that what we are going to see beginning tonight, you are absolutely right, we are going to see could beservatives falling all over each other because he is seen as an icon of the federalist movement, strict constructionists who in their
view did not read anything into the constitution except what was in a layman's simplistic's terms what was written in the constitution. this is the discover of -- sort of individual that is held up as a hero by the conservative movement. it points out a couple of things. first of all, it's extremely unlikely we are going to see a nominee by president obama. it's very likely he will put forward a nominee but it's extremely unlikely we will see a nominee. mitch mccogin the minor tee said they will not consider many more judicial no, ma'am nations at all. no one expected another supreme court no, ma'mination to be com this up year. the senate changed rules barring filibuster requiring 50 votes on most nominations coming from the president. >> did not apply to the supreme
court. 60 vote threshold is still in effect there, the campains, the all-out campaign going on right now that there would be a successful nomination and confirmation and as the professor pointed out, a decision of the lower court as a matter of mechanics. so beginning tonight, you are going to see conservatives embracing antonin scalia and many social issues like like abortion be and like gay marriage, for example, even though that wassing largely settled -- was largely settled last year. i think you are going to see them gain even more prominence, regain more prominence as conservative clarion call now and why a republican needs to be in the white house to protect some of these principles conservatives hold so dear. that's what you will hear throughout the republican campaign and into the fall. mike viqueira, thank you.
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scalia, the u.s. supreme court justice is dead. joining me now on the phone is garrett abs at the university of baltimore. garrett, tell us more about the legacy of antonin scalia. >> i made his mark both in the constitution and the way we see statutes. he was the force behind the moment of originalism on the bench, his argument being that we could interpret the constitution according to the way it was understood at the time it was a do not, that it was -- adopted, possible to figure that out and that's the way we should apply it. he always said: i don't want a living constitution. i want a dead constitution, meaning it should be fixed in its meaning because otherwise, judges, he said, are just sort
of reading in to it their preferences. but with statutes, he almost went the other way because he refused to consider any evidence outside of the statute of what congress intended. he wouldn't read committee reports, didn't pay attention to the statements by the sponsors and so forth. he said all that matters is text of the statute. it was a very aust ear way of reading federal statutes which are often very unclear. his major work, actually both of his books, major books, are about how to read statutes because he came out of a background not of constitutional law before of administrative law having to do with the way federal agencies separaoperate forth. you could see he was a powerhouse on two different tracts and no one who writes about these things and no justice of the supreme court could tackle a topic in either
area without dealing with the ideas that he had put forward. not everybody on the supreme court is an originalist, but what was fascinating was that toward the end of his term, justice john paul stevens, who was not an original lift when he went on the bench began to write opinions in which he tried to counter scalia with historical evidence from the period of the founding. it was quite a remarkable shift on the part of justice stevens, and scalia welcomed the combat. it has to be said scalia usually won if you mean by winning, get the five votes. >> let's go back to 1986 when he was nominated by president ronald reagan. why was he nominated? what was his appeal back then? >> well, he had been a defendant loyal foot soldier both for president ford and for president reagan in the office of legal counsel and other high offices.
he had been put on the d.c. circuit. i have -- one heres that the attention of reagan and other top officials was caught by tthe by the pickiness of his opinions and throughout his career, scalia's opinions, no matter how technical the issue might be would always contain paragraphs and phrases that ordinary people could understand and relate to so that they kind of left off -- leap tee-off of the page. he is fame ouings for using kind of wacky phrases in order to criticize the other justices on the court and their opinions. he dismissed another as harg hargle bargle. president reagan was not a lawyer. the kind of bold conservative, catchy, clear message of a
scalia opinion really caught his attention. it's important to realize that in '86, the republicans controlled the senate. when that opening came open on the court, they could have had any justice they wanted. if ronald reagan had nominated robert borke in '86, he would have been confirmed by a republican majority. by the time did you -- but he nominated scali instead. if he waited to in that nature him until 1987 even though the senate was controlled by democrats, he would have been appointed overwhelmingly and we would have had a very different court. his ability to speak to ordinary people, i think, is what distinguished him from a figure like bourke. >> okay, professor. thank you. scalia really deemed a conservative hero. we will be hearing his name quite a bit on the campaign trail. just yesterday t marco rubio was
asked: who was his favorite supreme court justice and here is what he had to say. >> what kind of people would you want to put on the court knowing that four were born in the 1930s and the next president could choose nearly half? >> the first and the third question are related. if you look at justras thomas and scalia, i wish we had 9 of them instead of two. >> no doubt this is going to be shocking to the senator as well as the rest of the g.o.p. presidential candidates. there are six left as the field has win owed down since the primaries. bringing in michael shore now,ays's political correspondent. shocking news but this is going to play a role, you think, tonight particularly at the debate for the republicans. >> unquestionably, erica. again, as mike viqueira said, you don't want to just talk about the politics when someone has passed away but he was
someone who polit sized the covered. a lot of people think the politization of the supreme court began in his era, become can associate justice on that court but turning to 016, very outspoken. ted cruz and all of his campaign stops, and we've followed him around iowa, telling voters, there could be four supreme court justices to be nominated by the next president. this is bearing out. one of the interesting things is the effect this will have on the race, whether mike is right and they are able to confirm a justice, a nomination, a confirmation for barack obama which doesn't seem likely given the current status of the senate. it made their, you know, huge burneden because they are going to be looked at as obstructionists. going to play them off as obstructionists. donald trump is seen as someone
who, any republicans would have a hard time with his positions on social issues. if there is a risk, for example, let's say they don't see the justice, the first thing that president is going to have to do is nominate a justice, and a lot of republicans, a lot of conservatives, a lot of originalistics like scalia, federalists like scalia will, they will say we don't want donald trump in charge of that. if could have an effect on the trump candidacy. this is going to be an election if they don't 234078 nature or c confirm whoever the president nominates, it's going to be an election where you are going to have a no, ma'am needed knee, and whoever that mystery will be, they would be dogged by each of the candidates, who will you nominate when you get there? you will hear about it likely tonight in south carolina. and the rest of the elections. the senate doesn't want to be swayed by national politics. they say, listen. this is our job. we have a job to do.
they will have a hard time nominating or confirming someone and a hard time not confirming someone. >> that's an interesting juxtaposition there. what do we know about voters in terms of them actually, you know, caring about tsupreme cout nominations, confirmations? certainly politicians care and it's going to become a stumping point on the campaign trail. do voters historically vote because of supreme court nominations? >> it's a great question. you know, no is the answer historically. more and more, though, candidates do this on the campaign trail. it was almost sort of thought of as a third rail, something you never talked about because you never wanted to quote, unquote politicize the court if you were a candidate but now, you hear more and more candidates talking about it. i think it's going to matter to more and more candidates.
and because of the vacancy now, it's going to be a bigger issue than any time before. you know, the last supreme court justice to be nominated in the presidential election was anthony kennedy in 1988 by president reagan. he took the bench in january of '88. that was about the time we are now but it's a different narrative there. he nominated robert bourke who couldn't pass senate and ginsburg was nominated and smoked marijuana. to tell you how long ago that was. this isn't something we are accustomed to because it's happening in an election year. it's probably going to be a bigger issue than it ever has been. >> michael shore, al jazeera's political correspondent, thank you so much. we will have much more on this. supreme court antonin scalia, when we come back. stay with us.
recapping our breaking news out of texas, antonin scalia, the most senior justice has died. the associate justice was reportedly found dead of apparent natural causes at a luxury resort in west texas. the 79-year-old supreme court justice is nominated to the court in 1986 by president ronald reagan. he was one of the most consistent conservative voices on the high court. let's bring in our own senior washington correspondent, mike
viqueira. mike, this is certainly stunning news. what do you think we are going to hear from the obama administration? >> well, false you will hear a note of grace. it has been confirmed by the u.s. marshal service which, of course, keeps watch over the supreme court. and when we hear president obama react to this, i think he will strike a high note, notwithstanding political differences that each individual has had with the other in terms of where they stand on the court. much has been made about president obama's background, a constitutional lawyer. will poe will president obama nominate someone given the fact that this election year, he is unlikely to get a lot of traction in the senate controlled by republicans but whatever no, ma'am next day knee he puts forward, i think all of that is beside the point. >> i think the president will not nominate someone. i don't think that individual would be confirmed this year, but one of the reasons he would
nominate someone is for the same reason on tuesday, he proposed a budget for this year with absolutely zero hope of it being considered by at that republican-controlled congress. this is, you know, a way for parties to lay down the marker, to rally their base, to indicate where they want to go in terms of policy and position but especially, in an election year when it's all about turning out your base voters, this is something that can't be ignored, can't be forsaken. no one is going to say that. let's be realistic and put this off until the next president comes in to office and give that opportunity. that's not political reality. all of this is generally not an issue that drives presidential election. it's sort of a side issue that motivates only the most rabid ends of the spectrum whether it's republican conservative base or liberal left base.
i think the issue broadens that much more now. it becomes many of the social issues that republicans up until this year had tried to back away from come back to the fore, even in the general election and not just the primary, and with regard to liberals as well. abortion rights, these are flags that are going to be waved as signals to the base to get motivated, to get out to the polls, to work would reelect or elect a democratic presidential nominee. so, it becomes a political football. it becomes yet another and already, you know, very highly charged atmosphere in washington. >> it will be politicized by both ends of the aisle. professor, what do you think is
going to be scalia's greatest legacy? what are people going to remember him for? >> i think he will be remembered as the guy who bought original naturalism into the constitutional dialogue. it's such an important topic now that it's difficult to remember that when he went on the bench, it was an outlandish theory. people laughed at it, the idea that we could discern the original meaning of the constitution and apply it that way, and by just the consistency of his argument in this area, by the way he kept hammering on the idea that in a democracy, the constitution had to have a fixed meaning. the judges could not, what he would call, change it by adapting it to the times. this was the very basis of constitutional law. >> idea is has now been widely
accepted, not only in constitutional circles, the challenge of originalism has been taken up by liberals as well. this entire change in the way we talk about the constitution comes about because of this one man and his intellectual force, his personal charm, and his just absolute determination to make the difference. all right, provensor. thank you so much. i want to thank all of our correspondents. lisa stark, mike viqueira and the professor here as well for your insight, and again, just to recount here, the hero of the conservative movement on the high court, justice antonin scalia pounds dead at a luxury resort in west texas, the
79-year-old supreme court justice nominated to the court in 1986 by president ronald reagan. of course, he was considered the most consistent conservative voice on the court, and we will no doubt be hearing from our chief correspondent and political correspondent that this will become a political football we are going to be seeing on the campaign trail at the presidential debate. we are looking at this man's legacy, what he leaves behind, certainly a conservative hero, again, justice antonin scalia pounds dead at 79 years old. much more at the top of the hour. thank you. al jazeera america gives you the total news experience anytime, anywhere.
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