Park City’s legislator recalls Antonin Scalia as ‘brilliant’ but ‘combative’ |

Park City’s legislator recalls Antonin Scalia as ‘brilliant’ but ‘combative’

The flags just off the Old Town roundabout were at half-staff early in the week in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Jake Shane/Park Record

Rep. Kraig Powell, an attorney and the Republican legislator whose district includes Park City, was holding a town hall at the Park City Library as news spread of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Powell did not learn of the death until after the event and spoke about the late justice in an interview. Powell said Scalia was a "brilliant legal mind, highly educated." But he was also "more political than many justices we’ve had throughout the years," Powell said. He was also "too confrontational and derogatory" on some occasions, he said.

"Combative, disrespectful and not a good model, I think, of what a judge should be," Powell said, adding that Scalia had a role in what Powell described as the "hyper-politicization of the judiciary in America."

Powell said he agreed with Scalia on issues such as judicial self-restraint, a concept that holds elected bodies rather than the judicial branch should craft public policy. Still, though, Scalia sometimes used his position on the Supreme Court for conservative activism, something that belied the ideal of judicial self-restraint, Powell said.

Powell said he heard Scalia speak while he was a law student at the University of Virginia. Scalia was "very quick minded," Powell said.

Powell said he wants President Obama to nominate someone who has humility and is restrained to succeed Scalia on the Supreme Court.

"The most important quality in a Supreme Court justice is to understand the role of the three branches of government," Powell said.

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