Antonin Scalia: 5 Things to Know About the Late Supreme Court Justice

Scalia was the longest serving justice on the current Supreme Court.

ByABC News
February 13, 2016, 9:04 PM

— -- Justice Antonin Scalia, the longest-serving justice on the current nine-member Supreme Court, died today at age 79.

Here are five things to know about Justice Scalia.

When Was He Appointed to the Supreme Court?

Scalia was nominated to the court by President Reagan and took his seat on Sept. 26, 1986.

What Was Scalia Known for in His Legal Interpretation of the Constitution?

As a member of the Supreme Court's conservative wing, Scalia was known for his "textualist" position regarding the Constitution -- that is, sticking close to the literal wording of the founding fathers in interpreting its meaning.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was a law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist in 1996, noted today the impact Scalia had on the judiciary.

"As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism," Cruz said in a statement on Facebook.

"And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. He was an unrelenting defender of religious liberty, free speech, federalism, the constitutional separation of powers, and private property rights," Cruz added.

What Were His Opinions of Some of the Most Controversial Legal Decisions in Recent History?

When it came to the topic of abortion, Scalia argued that there is no constitutional right to abortion. In the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Scalia wrote in his dissenting opinion: "The States may, if they wish, permit abortion on demand, but the Constitution does not require them to do so. The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting."

In the landmark Supreme Court decision in June 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, Scalia blasted the majority opinion, calling it a "judicial Putsch" and a "threat to American democracy."

What Were Scalia's Appointments Before the Supreme Court?

Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, Scalia was appointed Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1982. He also served as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel from 1974 to 1977, Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States from 1972 to 1974 and General Counsel of the Office of Telecommunications Policy from 1971 to 1972.

Scalia's Family Life

Scalia is survived by his wife, Maureen, whom he married in 1960, five sons and four girls -- Ann Forrest, Eugene, John Francis, Catherine Elisabeth, Mary Clare, Paul David, Matthew, Christopher James and Margaret Jane.