America lost a great man, Justice Antonin Scalia a man who was more than a great thinker, and brilliant jurist, who popularized “originalist theory” (relying on the words of the constitution and and the description of the document by it’s authors). When history looks back on his 30-years serving on the Supreme Court will be known as one of a handful of the greatest justices in American history.
I will leave it to others to talk about the way Justice Scalia changed the court, or artful writing style, or his bombastic personality which endeared him to those who agreed and disagreed with his opinion. Sadly I never had the chance to meet him in person, but did hear about his wonderful sense of humor and his deep love for his friends and family.
Instead of talking about any of the above, I would like review the late Judge’s greatest legal opinion. That’s right, his ruling that Chicago deep dish pizza wasn’t true pizza.
The ruling was issued on Valentines Day in February 2014 night at a birthday celebration for Americas First President George Washington. The celebration was held at the Union League Club of Chicago where the great Supreme Court Justice ruled that Chicago “deep dish” pizza, wasn’t really pizza.
The evening’s discussion ranged from his favorite president (Washington) to religious constitutional issues (government can’t favor one religion over another but doesn’t have to avoid religion). It was near the end of the night the Justice made his ruling. Scalia directed his comments on the pizza issue during the question and answer session after his speech. He said he liked both Chicago and New York style pizza, but Chicago style “shouldn’t be called pizza” he said.
With that ruling, Justice Scalia agreed with the legal precedent he set in October 2011 when he said:
“I do indeed like so-called ‘deep dish pizza.’ It’s very tasty,” the high court’s most outspoken conservative said after a moment’s hesitation. “But it should not be called ‘pizza.’ It should be called ‘a tomato pie.’ Real pizza is Neapolitan. [from Naples, Italy] It is thin. It is chewy and crispy, OK?”
At the time some argued that Scalia should recuse himself because he was born in Queens, grew up in New Jersey and would naturally favor the pizza served in New York. Others argued that Scalia’s decision was fair because he did spent time teaching at the University of Chicago. In the end Chicago never appealed the decision.
May Justice Antonin Scalia, a man whose personality and love of others was as big as his legal mind, rest in peace. And may God comfort his wife, children, other family, and many, many, friends and loved ones.