Columnist: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a rebel till the end

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 20, 2016

By Glenn Dowell

Contributing columnist

By now, most of us have heard that Justice Antonin Scalia is now dead. He died during a stay at a Texas luxury ranch.

The person who found him, John Poindexter, owner of the 30,000-acre ranch, said that they discovered him lying on his stomach with a pillow over his head. His bedclothes did not show signs of wrinkles.

It appeared that the night before Scalia’s death, he had left other guests, indicating his desire to get to bed early. He was discovered dead the next morning by Poindexter.

At issue are a series of decisions made by the Texas county judge who took charge in the aftermath of Scalia’s passing when two justices of the peace sought out by those at the ranch could not make it to the site. Available information seems to indicate that Scalia was pronounced dead by phone.

The decision to do so has fueled conspiracy theories that Scalia was murdered. Family members of the deceased justice do not lend credence to these conspiracies and believe that 79-year-old Scalia simply died in his sleep.

There is, however, some irony in the death of Scalia. The visit to the ranch did not include his normal security detail responsible for his safety. The owner of the ranch to date has not revealed the identities of the other visitors at the time of Scalia’s death.

Why was he at the ranch? Did he know the owner? Were there any business connections between Scalia and the visitors to the ranch during the weekend of his death?

These minor details are what give life to those predisposed to being dissuaded by actual facts.

Who is John Poindexter?

Poindexter’s net worth is estimated at $3 billion. Since the early 1990s, John Poindexter has built his Houston company, J.B. Poindexter & Co. into the world’s largest — $550 million sales — maker of truck bodies for the likes of Ryder, Penske, UPS and FedEx. He owns 100 percent (

It appears as if he considers himself a hero of the Vietnam war. He joined the Army in 1970, becoming a captain, responsible for a unit of 225 men. During combat, his Alpha troops were attacked by the North Vietnamese Army and a number of them were killed.

Believing that the battle was not properly recognized by the military, he did not stop until, in 2004, he compiled the accounts into a 160-page, illustrated, self-published book, “The Anonymous Battle.” Poindexter at that time solicited the assistance of Army generals and a Texas U.S. Senator to petition the secretary of the U.S. Army for recognition for the battle in Vietnam. In November 2008, the Presidential Unit Citation was approved for the actions of Poindexter’s Alpha troops.

The death of Justice Scalia exacerbates feud between Democrats and Republicans

With tensions already running at an all-time high between Democrats and Republicans, nominating a justice as his replacement is believed by some to be likened to pouring gasoline on an already raging fire. Republicans have already stated emphatically that they will not confirm any candidate that President Barack Obama nominates for Scalia’s replacement.

President Obama has also dug in and stated that it is his constitutional duty as president to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia and that he will not abdicate that responsibility.

Scalia was a favorite among Republicans and conservatives

Scalia himself weighs in on the political fracas even from the grave. In a 2012 interview on C-SPAN, Scalia revealed his preferred successor as Judge Frank Easterbrook of the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. It was discovered that Easterbrook and Scalia first met as lawyers in the Ford administration. They also were both on the University of Chicago Law school faculty before President Ronald Reagan tapped them to be judges (Marisa Schultz, New York Post, Feb. 15, 2016).

The successful nominee to the court could conceivably be the deciding vote on such controversial issues as immigration, abortion, affirmative action in college admissions, including voting rights and public-sector unions concerns.

Before his death justice Scalia made it clear on some issues related to affirmative action when he questioned the place of some black students in elite colleges and universities (Tal Kopan , CNN, Dec. 9, 2015). Blacks and liberals in the country were absolutely shocked in disbelief — the idea that a sitting Supreme Court justice could utter such nonsense that could conceivably re-segregate postsecondary institutions in America.

Oh, before I close, there is one connection that Justice Scalia definitely has with John Poindexter. His body was removed from the ranch by a hearse. You see, one of Poindexter’s companies is the largest manufacturer of hearses and funeral coaches.

Now you know.

Glenn Dowell is an author and LaGrange native who currently lives in Jonesboro. He may be reached at