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Possible Scalia Replacements on Display at DC Gathering

11-18-2016
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Antonin Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is issuing a rallying cry to conservative lawyers and jurists after the nation elected Donald Trump as president.

At a Federalist Society gathering in Washington of 1,800 top conservatives, Alito paid tribute to Justice Antonin Scalia who died in February, saying he is sorely missed on the court.

Alito pointed out that issues like religious freedom and gun rights are at stake in the federal courts right now.
       
He said,  "We are left to ask ourselves WWSD," meaning What Would Scalia Do?, a play on the phrase "WWJD," for What Would Jesus Do?

President-elect Trump has said he will appoint a conservative like Scalia to fill his post.

Conference attendees packed a lunchtime panel moderated by Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, one of 21 people on Trump's list to fill the Scalia vacancy.

Larsen served as a Supreme Court law clerk to Scalia who said he valued his clerk's frank assessment of his work.

Other sessions were moderated by Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras and federal appellate judges William Pryor and Thomas Hardiman, all on Trump's list. Before the conference ends Saturday, nine judges on the list are expected to appear.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas also addressed the gathering, saying conservatives should make Scalia's work a "prologue" in the effort to limit the power of the courts and other branches of government.

Thomas said the Supreme Court has too often granted rights to people that are not found in the Constitution, citing the decision in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal across the country. Both Scalia and Thomas dissented from that decision.

"With such unchecked judicial power, we leave it for the least accountable branch to decide what newly discovered rights should be appended to our Constitution," Thomas told 1,700 people at a Thursday night dinner to honor Scalia.

Thomas said he and his longtime friend and colleague formed an "odd couple" of a white New Yorker and a black man from Georgia. "But together, we soon became our own band of brothers," he said.

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