Addressing a crowd of more than 2,500 in Fort Smith Thursday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia attempted to explain his commitment to the "real Constitution,"

Addressing a crowd of more than 2,500 in Fort Smith Thursday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia attempted to explain his commitment to the "real Constitution,"


"The Constitution means what it meant when our forefathers adopted it," he said. "Of all the things ever written, why should it morph? I don’t know how to not take it literally. It means what it means."


Scalia was the first speaker in the U.S. Marshals Museum’s Winthrop Paul Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture Series. The audience for the event included 800 students from area school who gathered at the ArcBest Performing Arts Center in the Fort Smith Convention Center.


The series of three lectures will welcome leaders from the executive, judiciary and legislative branches of the U.S. government to Fort Smith to speak. There will be one lecture each in 2016 and 2017.


Scalia was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 1986. He is the Supreme Court’s longest serving justice.


Speaking about his responsibility as a Supreme Court justice, Scalia said the cases he "falls on his sword for," are those that deal with the "real Constitution" and those that attempt to tinker with the structure of government.


He said, "Structure is destiny," explaining that without a properly balanced government, the rights and freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights would be nothing more than just words on paper.


Every "tin-horn dictator and every banana republic in the world today" has a Bill of Rights, Scalia said but without a constitution to prevent centralization of power to one person or one political party, the Bill of Rights can be ignored.


As part of the educational series, students from area schools are not only invited to attend the lectures, but are encouraged to participate in the session and ask questions to the panelists.


Ozark Junior High School student Selena Ellison, mentioning the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. the Board of Education, asked Scalia if cultural diversity on the Supreme Court was a good idea and if it had any effect on the outcome of decisions.


The justice replied that while having diversity was a good idea "for political reasons," the job of the Supreme Court is to interpret the text of law and that it was more important to have good lawyers on the panel than to seek ethnic diversity.


Southside High School student Justin Nguyen referred to Scalia’s strict adherence to the original text of the Constitution and asked if the historic document should continue to be taken literally rather than be interpreted by more modern standards.


Scalia reaffirmed his stance and said he felt the law of the land "should not be morphed or reinterpreted."


"The Constitution means what it meant when our forefathers adopted it," he said. "Of all the things ever written, why should it morph? I don’t know how to not take it literally. It means what it means."


The educational lecture series also touched on the history of the U.S. Marshals Service in relation to the judicial branch of the federal government.


U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia was on hand to introduce Scalia. Hudson, a former director of the Marshals Service, said although the service was "heavily steeped in history" as the nation’s oldest law enforcement agency it is still an active modern power in law enforcement.


Rockefeller’s son, Win Rockefeller, on Thursday said he felt overwhelmed by the public support and felt the series would help fulfill his father’s dreams of seeing the museum get built.


In March 2014, the museum board announced Lisenne Rockefeller, widow of former Arkansas Lt. Gov. Winthrop Paul "Win" Rockefeller, donated $100,000 to fund the three-year lecture series, which officials hope will raise the visibility of the museum project.


Museum President and CEO Jim Dunn thanked the Rockefeller family and said the event was a great start to the series.