The sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has stunned the nation. His loss from the bench will be weighed by patriotic Americans for generations to come. I want to use this space to reflect on comments from four Southern Baptist leaders.
Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, Louisville, Ky., wrote "[Scalia’s] death leaves us with the reality that perhaps the most important conservative in the world has just breathed his last. As a jurist, his name enters into the pantheon of justices who made their mark as great men of consequence – Marshall, Warren, Holmes, and now Scalia. We can hardly overstate his legacy as a jurist, much less his dogged determination that the rule of law meant that laws and the Constitution must be interpreted according to their framer’s intent. On this particular point, Scalia was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, and he was the voice of reason. And now that voice is gone."
Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, Matthews, N.C., said, "Justice Scalia was a great servant of liberty and the rule of law, and he will be sorely missed by his fellow citizens. His passing once again underscores and vividly illustrates the fact that often the most important and permanently impactful thing that a president does is to nominate Supreme Court justices, and that one of the most important votes a senator casts is his decision to approve or reject such presidential Supreme Court nominations. Among President Reagan’s most lasting and important contributions to America and to the cause of liberty was his decision to nominate Antonin Scalia. All 98 senators who voted for his nomination and his elevation to the Supreme Court should be commended as well. The day the Senate confirmed President Reagan’s nomination of Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court has proven to be one of the most important days in modern American history."
Russell Moore, president, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention said, "Scalia was, arguably, the most conservative justice on the high court. He was certainly one of the most combative in print and in argument in history. Even so, he had a strong friendship with liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He famously took Justice Elena Kagan hunting with him. Was this inconsistency? No. This was confidence. He knew that his ideas could prevail, so he didn’t see the persons who opposed him as those to be avoided or shunned. He knew that his convictions were clear, so he didn’t have to play tribal politics by isolating himself within an ideological cocoon."
Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in his blog, "The 79-year-old justice had served almost 30 years on the nation’s highest court and was by any measure one of the most influential justices in that court’s history. Indeed, Antonin Scalia is almost surely the most influential justice to sit on the Supreme Court in many decades. The loss of his influence, as well as his his crucial vote, is monumental. Scalia’s significance lies in his commitment to originalism, also known as textualism — the belief that the Constitution of the United States is to be read and understood and applied in keeping with the language, syntax, and vocabulary of its text as understood to be intended by the framers. This was how the Supreme Court had operated for decades, without even having to express originalism as a method."
Pray the U.S. Senate will have the wisdom and courage to approve a replacement for Scalia who is a person of similar intellect, character, courage and conviction. Without such a person on the bench, religious liberty will likely become extinct in our nation.
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