By Rev. Mario Gonzalez, Esq.
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Today, America lost one of its greatest heroes. An Italian-American icon dedicated to defending the Constitution with every fiber of his being. A man who recognized the erosion of the family unit in America as the greatest threat to its stability, who understood the Constitution to be a document that, like any other document, should be read and analyzed as expressing the thoughts and values of the authors that wrote it at the time of its writing. A document much too precious to be twisted and contorted to support sentiments and ideologies anathema to the very patriots who poured their hearts, souls and minds into its drafting.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought of custom designing a T-Shirt with his name and likeness on it that I could wear around my law school just to freak my professors out. Every time Scalia was derided during a discussion at law school by the backhanded comment of some confused liberal, my heart was broken. I saw his critics as lost souls, adrift in a sea of legal and logical instability destined to be helplessly marooned on an island of conflict and confusion by their fundamentally flawed ideologies.

Even in his controversial decision on Employment Div. v. Smith, 484 U.S. 872 (1990) which ultimately prompted a religious backlash and evidenced the need for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993), I understood and agreed with Justice Scalia’s much criticized opinion. Justice Scalia penned the Court’s decision in Smith holding that though the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment protects the right of individuals to believe whatever they wish, it does not necessarily protect an individual’s right to act on that belief when doing so violates a neutral, generally applicable state law governing criminal behavior the state has a Constitutional right to regulate though its police power.  In Smith, it was Oregon’s right to regulate the use of an illegal drug (Peyote) for religious purposes. However controversial, his decision in this case demonstrated Scalia’s consistent commitment to protecting an individual State’s rule of law. His steadfast support for state sovereignty and his commitment to limit the scope of the federal government’s ability to interfere with this Constitutional right was invariable.

I secretly shuddered in fear when I envisioned what it would be like to have a Supreme Court without Justice Scalia. But in my heart I was comforted in knowing that Justice Scalia would continue to hang-on, if only to protect the Constitution until a President was elected that would properly select another constitutional originalist to fill his place. He hung on as long as he could, protecting the Constitution to his last breath. We now have the most liberal president in the history of our country poised to submit an appointee to the Supreme Court that will worsen the constitutional imbalance already present in this historically liberal Court.  If ever conservatives needed to erect an impregnable firewall to a potential presidential appointee to SCOTUS it is now.

What is at stake? Let me make it simple for you - the country.  Simply put, SCALIA’S REPLACEMENT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAT WHO THE NEXT PRESIDENT WILL BE. The next president’s influence over our country is constitutionally limited to no more than eight (8) years. Conversely, the decisions of a newly appointed Supreme Court Justice will affect us for generations to come. We cannot now allow what Scalia’s life stood for to be lost with his death. The fight to protect our beloved Constitution now passes to you and me.