Antonin Scalia Was a Great Jurist for Criminal Defendants

Scalia is rightly credited with single-handedly reviving the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Before Scalia joined the Court, it had held that out-of-court statements could be used against a defendant if they were deemed reliable. Scalia convinced his colleagues that the guarantee made by the Framers is greater than that and gives the accused the right to confront witnesses and cross-examine their testimony.

Scalia also stood strong in defense of Americans’ Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures. In Maryland v. King (2013), for example, Scalia disagreed with the Court’s conservatives about the constitutionality of a Maryland law allowing law enforcement to take DNA by mouth swab of anyone charged with a violent crime.

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