Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court justice appointed by President Ronald Reagan in September of 1986, died Saturday at age 79. The conservative judge was known for his equally biting and humorous opinions.
To honor the man who dedicated 29 years to service on the country’s highest court, Entrepreneur has rounded up some of his quotable lines:
1. "If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity.”
Scalia said this during a speech to the Knights of Columbus Council 969 in Louisiana in 2005. While he may have been advocating the case for strict religious fervor at the time, the idea applies to a variety of situations, including the business world.
Every great idea was once considered crazy, even ideas that we now take as obvious fact, such as heliocentricity. Believe in your product, company and vision, even if it’s regarded by some as foolish.
2. "This case, involving legal requirements for the content and labeling of meat products such as frankfurters, affords a rare opportunity to explore simultaneously both parts of Bismarck's aphorism that 'No man should see how laws or sausages are made.'"
In the opening statement of his opinion for a 1984 case sent to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit -- Community Nutrition Institute v. Block -- Scalia shows off his sense of humor. He later said this was his best opening line, according to Fox News.
There are two lessons to take from this. First, it’s true that the general public might not be interested in seeing the inner workings of your company -- how the sausage is made, so to speak -- but you should be aware of the entire process to ensure the quality stays consistent. Second, when the job gets stressful and you disagree with colleagues, try to find the humor and joy in the work -- this opinion was one of Scalia’s dissents, after all.
3. "I guess the one that created the most waves of disagreement was Bush vs. Gore, OK? That comes up all the time. And my usual response is: Get over it."
During an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN in 2012, Scalia said people ask him most about his controversial decision in the SCOTUS case that defined the year 2000.
Not every business decision you make will be popular, but you can’t turn back the clock. The only thing to do is to move on from there.
4. “Since [a death penalty case in 1990, Walton v. Arizona], I have acquired new wisdom … or, to put it more critically, have discarded old ignorance.”
In business, and in life in general, it’s important to keep an open mind and be willing to change your opinion as new information is presented through experience or research. In the justice’s concurring opinion of a 2002 court case, Ring vs. Arizona, he shows himself to be capable of self-reflection and change.
5. "I don't worry about my legacy. Just do your job right, and who cares?"
In 2005, while speaking at the National Archives, Scalia stated his thoughts on legacy bluntly. Your legacy will decide itself based on the work you do. It’s likely that Bill Gates never thought about his legacy when he started out, but instead, he put one foot in front of the other. His work and its impact speaks for him.
When you’re starting your company, don’t consider how future MBAs will judge your reputation. Just do the best work you can, day in and day out.