WASHINGTON — US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on Sunday, February 14, at age 79. Scalia was appointed to the high bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. He was born in Trenton, NJ and received his LLB from Harvard University.
While Scalia is known generally to Americans as a high-profile figure, he is also well known in the Armenian-American community. In July 1995, Scalia became the first sitting US Supreme Court Justice to visit Armenia.
“In our world of law, he was a giant. His heart had no boundaries; his mind had no limits,” former California Supreme Court Justice Armand Arabian told the Assembly upon learning of Scalia’s passing. “There was nobody like him. He was my judicial brother,” Arabian said.
Scalia traveled to Yerevan to participate in a USAID-funded conference of judges, lawyers, and legal experts, sponsored by the Technical Assistance for the Republic of Armenia (TARA), a non-profit group focused on promoting an independent judiciary in Armenia following that country’s independence from the Soviet Union.
Accompanying Scalia on his trip to Armenia were five other American judges: Armand Arabian and Marvin Baxter of the California Supreme Court, Paul Michel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Dickran Tevrizian of the US District Court in Southern California, and Eric Bruggink of the US Court of Federal Claims. American attorney’s participating in the Yerevan conference include TARA Board of Directors Chair Nancy Najarian, TARA Executive Director Dan Maljanian, Sam Ericsson, Van Krikorian, Peter Kezirian, Tom Samuelian, Karen Lord, Carmen Bullard, Professor Mark Movsesian of Hofstra University Law School, and Professors Bob Sharlet and Herman Schwartz of the Rule of Law Consortium.
The Armenian Assembly of America reported in 1995 that, “Scalia emphasized the importance of establishing an independent judiciary in Armenia and the means by which the country has begun to do so.” Armenia held a referendum on the adoption of the country’s first constitution days before the US delegation arrived.