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Antonin Scalia's rulings had broad impact in Oklahoma

The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a reliable conservative vote on any number of topics the court took up during his 30-year tenure, including a few cases that affected Oklahoma.

Scalia died Saturday at a resort ranch in west Texas, the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed.

In June, Scalia wrote the majority opinion in which a Muslim woman in Tulsa argued she was denied a job at an Abercrombie and Fitch store when she was 17 because her headscarf violated the company's "Look Policy." Elauf said she was never told about the policy during her interview.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the retailer on Elauf's behalf.

In an 8-1 decision, the court sided with Elauf, ruling that the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from using a job applicant's religion as motivation to deny them a position.

“An employer may not make an applicant's religious practice, confirmed or otherwise, a factor in employment decisions," Scalia wrote.

“For example, suppose that an employer thinks (though he does not know for certain) that a job applicant may be an orthodox Jew who will observe the Sabbath, and thus be unable to work Saturdays. If the applicant actually requires an accommodation of that religious practice, and the employer's desire to avoid the prospective accommodation is a motivating factor in his decision, the employer violates Title VII” of the Civil Rights Act.

Also in June, Scalia was one of five justices who sided with Oklahoma in Glossip v. Gross, in which attorneys for three Oklahoma death row inmates argued that the sedative the state used in its execution protocol could lead to an unconstitutional level of pain before death.

The court rejected that argument by a 5-4 vote. Writing in a concurrent opinion, Scalia was characteristically colorful, taking Justice Stephen Breyer to task for arguing that capital punishment ought to be ended entirely. Breyer's dissenting opinion was, Scalia wrote, "full of internal contradictions and (it must be said) gobbledy-gook."


Silas Allen

Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri. Read more ›

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›

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