Critics of Scalia overlook justice’s principled, thoughtful approach

On the day of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral, the Globe published four letters about him, all critical (“The Scalia way,’’ Readers’ Forum, Feb. 20). They objected to the policy consequences of his decisions, alleged that he applied religious beliefs to his decisions and failed to interpret the “meaning’’ of the Constitution and statutes, rather than their literal text, and complained of his “heaping scorn on those who disagreed with him.’’

The need to interpret the Constitution or a statute arises only when it contains an ambiguity on some subject in some context. Scalia correctly did not see a judge’s role as creating policy when the political branches fail to deal with a subject or do so unwisely.

While he was no homophobe, his personal religious beliefs excluded same-sex marriage as much as they did abortion, but he would never have denied a state the right to allow either. He made only the plain argument that the Constitution does not require them.

He was often scornful of defective arguments, but seldom of the people who advanced them.

Alas, many who expressed satisfaction at his passing seem unable to make that distinction.

Brian R. Merrick

West Barnstable

The writer is a retired Massachusetts District Court judge.