Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a conservative giant, responsible for a major shift in the Supreme Court that put more emphasis on the original intent of the U.S. Constitution and less on legislative history. His death Saturday has added another major twist to the 2016 presidential election season; if President Obama or his successor nominates a liberal judge to replace Scalia, the court’s conservatives will be helplessly outnumbered for the foreseeable future.
That’s the mainstream take on Scalia’s passing, but there are underground whispers already that have taken it a step further. According to some, there is mystery surrounding the judge’s death. In an interview with the New York Post, retired NYPD detective Patricia Tufo said, “It’s not unreasonable to ask for an autopsy in this case, particularly knowing who he is.”
According to Tufo and others, the facts about Scalia’s death are, at minimum, worthy of increased scrutiny. “He’s not at home,” she said. “There are no witnesses to his death, and there was no reported explanation for why a pillow is over his head.”
Popular radio host Michael Savage put it more bluntly. “Was he murdered?” he asked on his show. “We need a Warren Commission-like federal investigation. This is serious business.”
Scalia’s age – 79 – has dampened some of the enthusiasm that might typically surround such a juicy conspiracy theory, but the man’s incomparable importance may be enough to keep tongues wagging. For a president who came into office with the intention of fundamentally changing the course of the United States, Scalia’s death provides him with what might be his best opportunity to do just that. Obama is, by all accounts, obsessed with his legacy. If he can change the political makeup of the nation’s highest court, even critical historians would have to admit that he made a difference.
Could such an opportunity have driven Obama to these depths?
“There was no medical examiner present,” Savage said. “There was no one who declared the death who was there. It was done by telephone from a U.S. Marshal appointed by Obama himself.”
Evidence linking the Justice’s death to foul play is thin-to-nonexistent, but the decision not to pursue an autopsy has ensured that the questions will keep coming. “As a former homicide commander, I am stunned that no autopsy was ordered for Justice Scalia,” wrote William O. Ritchie, a retired D.C. police investigator. “You have a Supreme Court Justice who died, not in attendance of a physician. You have a non-homicide trained US Marshal tell the justice of peace that no foul play was observed.”
“My gut,” Ritchie wrote, “tells me there is something fishy going on in Texas.”
Conspiracy theories, almost by definition, are far-fetched, but that doesn’t make them automatically untrue. Depending on how this all plays out, Scalia’s death could turn out to be a major turning point in American history. Suffice to say, people have been murdered for less.