What was the most important thing for readers of Washington Post to see on the front-page of the paper Sunday morning? A headline focusing directly on the death of Antonin Scalia? No. In bold, large font, the Post declared, “Supreme Court Conservative Dismayed Liberals.”
Apparently, someone at the paper thought better of this for the online version. It declared, “Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies at 79.” The actual article itself included some nice tributes to Scalia. In contrast, even the liberal New York Times managed a respectful headline: "Justice Scalia, Who Led Court’s Conservative Renaissance, Dies At 79.”
Post writer Robert Barnes opened:
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the intellectual cornerstone of the court’s modern conservative wing, whose elegant and acidic opinions inspired a movement of legal thinkers and ignited liberal critics, died Feb. 13 on a ranch near Marfa, Tex. He was 79.
Of his judicial philosophy, Barnes wrote:
He mocked the notion of a “living” Constitution, one that evolved with changing times, as simply an excuse for judges to impose their ideological views.
Critics countered that the same could be said for originalism — and that the legal conclusions Justice Scalia said were dictated by that approach meshed neatly with the justice’s views on the death penalty, gay rights and abortion.
In an editorial, the New York Times seethed:
From abortion rights to marriage equality and desegregation, Justice Scalia opposed much of the social and political progress of the late 20th century and this one. He wanted to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on women’s rights to privacy, he dissented on the decision that said anti-sodomy laws were unconstitutional, and he dissented on decisions that it was unconstitutional to execute mentally disabled or teenage prisoners. He disapproved of the Miranda decision that requires police to read prisoners their rights.