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Justice Antonin Scalia

BY Maureen Hoch  March 9, 2007 at 8:10 PM EDT

Antonin Scalia

Scalia’s excellent academic performance in both public school and a military prep school led him to degrees from Georgetown University, the University of Fribourg, Switzerland and a law degree from Harvard where he was editor of the law review and a Sheldon fellow from 1960-1961.

After law school, Scalia briefly went into private law practice in Ohio before accepting a teaching position at the University of Virginia. After four years of teaching, he decided to enter public service, serving in a variety of positions in the Nixon administration including the Office of Telecommunication Policy and the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Council. After the Watergate scandal forced President Nixon out of office, President Gerald Ford assigned Scalia to determine the legal ownership of the Nixon tapes and documents.

In 1977, Scalia left government work to return to teaching at the University of Chicago as well as brief stints at Stanford and Georgetown. He also served for a year as chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section of Administrative Law. He returned to Washington and public service in 1982 when President Reagan appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., where his philosophy of strict constitutional interpretation and strong conservative values made their mark.

In 1986, President Reagan nominated William Rehnquist to fill the chief justice position vacated by the retiring Warren Berger, and subsequently nominated Scalia to fill the newly opened associate justice position. With so much attention focused on Rehnquist’s promotion, the staunchly conservative Scalia passed through the confirmation process by an unanimous Senate vote. He took his oath of office on Sept. 26, 1986.

Scalia has remained a staunch member of the high court’s right wing and maintains a passionate view that the Constitution should be strictly and rigidly interpreted. His strong views have lead to spirited and occasionally combative clashes with other more moderate judges on the bench who differ from him in their view of the country’s legal framework.

Scalia and his wife Maureen have nine children.