|At left, Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court at the Inauguration of the pResident.|
At right, Sir Thomas More, English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist
First of all, the point is "Check out the hat". While some have laughed at Justice Scalia, the knowledgeable know better. I first learned of this over at blog-buddy c w swanson's place. (Go read, I'll wait.)
And courtesy (naturellement) of Wikipedia, I give you the following biographical tidbits.
Sir Thomas More
Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), known to Catholics as Saint Thomas More since 1935, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and was Lord Chancellor from October 1529 to 16 May 1532. He was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1935 as one of the early martyrs of the schism that separated the English Church from Catholicism in the 16th century. In 2000, Pope John Paul II declared him Patron of Catholic Statesmen and Politicians.
Thomas More was an opponent of the Protestant Reformation, in particular of Martin Luther and William Tyndale. However, since 1980, he is also commemorated by the Anglican Church.
More coined the word "utopia" – a name he gave to the ideal and imaginary island nation, the political system of which he described in Utopia, published in 1516. He opposed the King's separation from the Catholic Church and refused to accept the king as Supreme Head of the Church of England, a title which had been given by parliament through the Act of Supremacy of 1534. He was imprisoned in 1534 for his refusal to take the oath required by the First Succession Act, because the act disparaged Papal Authority and Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In 1535, he was tried for treason, convicted on perjured testimony, and beheaded. He also helped originate the phrase "grasp at straws" to mean "desperately trying even useless things", in Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation.
Intellectuals and statesmen across Europe were stunned by More's execution. Erasmus saluted him as one "whose soul was more pure than any snow, whose genius was such that England never had and never again will have its like". Two centuries later Jonathan Swift said he was "the person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced," a sentiment with which Samuel Johnson agreed. Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper said in 1977 that More was "the first great Englishman whom we feel that we know, the most saintly of humanists, the most human of saints, the universal man of our cool northern renaissance."Justice Scalia
Antonin Gregory Scalia (born March 11, 1936) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As the longest-serving justice currently on the Court, Scalia is the Senior Associate Justice. Appointed to the Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, Scalia has been described as the intellectual anchor of the Court's conservative wing.
Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and attended public grade school and Catholic high school in New York City, where his family had moved. He attended Georgetown University as an undergraduate and obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from Harvard Law School. After spending six years in a Cleveland law firm, he became a law school professor. In the early 1970s, he served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, first at minor administrative agencies, and then as an assistant attorney general. He spent most of the Carter years teaching at the University of Chicago, where he became one of the first faculty advisers of the fledgling Federalist Society. In 1982, he was appointed as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Ronald Reagan.
In 1986, Scalia was appointed by Reagan to the Supreme Court to fill the associate justice seat vacated when Justice William Rehnquist was elevated to Chief Justice. Whereas Rehnquist's confirmation was contentious, Scalia was asked few difficult questions by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and faced no opposition. Scalia was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, and took his seat on September 26, 1986.
In his quarter-century on the Court, Scalia has staked out a conservative ideology in his opinions, advocating textualism in statutory interpretation and originalism in constitutional interpretation. He is a strong defender of the powers of the executive branch, believing presidential power should be paramount in many areas. He opposes affirmative action and other policies that treat minorities as groups. He files separate opinions in large numbers of cases, and, in his minority opinions, often castigates the Court's majority in scathing language.
I wonder if the pResident knows that the US Government does not have an executioner on staff?