In addition to a commitment to enforcing the Constitution as written, the successor to Justice Antonin Scalia should possess two of his virtues. First, he or she must unflinching in pursuit of principle even in the face of the rewards that often come from abandoning it. The highest honors from our legal and academic establishment all go to justices who begin or drift left. Justice Scalia, of course, was impervious to all such temptations.
But a justice also faces a temptation to decide law in favor of the policy preferences of the team who nominated him. Law, however, has no team, and Justice Scalia knew it. He wrote opinions in cases from flag burning to detention of enemy combatants that conflicted with the sentiments of many of his fellow conservatives.
And it was clear from the time of his appointment that on the Court Scalia would be a member of only one party—the party of law. In the academy, he showed his independence by dissenting on issues of central importance to his colleagues, like affirmative action. At the Office of Legal Counsel in the Ford Admnistration, however, he even made allies unhappy by keeping the executive branch within the metes and bounds of the law.
Second, Scalia’s successor must be capable of pressing the intellectual case for following the Constitution as written.