Antonin Scalia on Russell Kirk

The late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a letter to Annette Kirk on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of The Conservative Mind in 2003.

Also see the 2016 tribute to Antonin Scalia in the University Bookman.

In the summer of 2003, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was invited to celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the publication of Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind at the White House. Although he was unable to attend, Justice Scalia sent Mrs. Kirk a letter expressing his appreciation for Kirk’s influence on his life and thought. The following is an excerpt from this letter:

Dear Mrs. Kirk:

In paying tribute to Dr. Kirk, I acknowledge my indebtedness to the man who first opened my mind to conservative thought. That occurred when I was in high school, working at a summer job that involved a lot of sitting-and-waiting, during which I read the very book whose publication date is marked today. For many years after that I was nourished by his other books, and by the scholarly journals The University Bookman and Modern Age that he edited. I once enjoyed the pleasure of visiting both of you—in connection, I believe, with a seminar sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute—at your famous Piety Hill home.

No one has had a greater role in the formation of American conservative thought. And no more courteous (indeed, courtly) a gentleman, nor one more devoted to the United States of America, could be imagined. I rejoice in the well deserved honor conferred on him today.