Juris Imprudence: In Unprecedented Remarks, Supreme Court Justice Tells Buyers Of His Book How He Will Rule In Upcoming Landmark Cases
Antonin Scalia, possibly the most extreme conservative associate U.S. Supreme Court justice, says, for him, it is “easy” to outlaw same-sex marriage — which he calls “homosexual sodomy.” Scalia, a Reagan appointee who hails from Trenton, New Jersey, also finds it “easy” to rule on the death penalty and abortion. The remarks are considered unprecedented as they relate to cases the Supreme Court is likely to rule on soon, possibly even next year.
“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”
Scalia made the shocking remarks while discussing his new book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts, at a D.C. book signing hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). AEI is an uber-conservative think tank home to many former-Bush administration neocons, including John Bolton, Lynne Cheney, Newt Gingrich, and Paul Wolfowitz.
“Scalia calls himself a ‘textualist’,” The Huffington Post notes, (which is also labeled an an originalist,) meaning, Scalia believes that if the exact words — text — do not appear in the Constitution, the right to it does not exist. In a Scalia world, there is no right to same-sex marriage, abortion, Miranda warnings, and believes the death penalty is not “cruel and unusual.”
“The issue of gay rights, or more specifically same-sex marriage, is expected to be a big one in the term that began this week,” The Huffington Post noted, making the mere idea that Scalia would comment scandalous and imprudent.
While the justices initially were scheduled to discuss the topic at their private conference in late September, it now appears likely that they will not make a decision about whether to take up a gay marriage case until after the presidential election, which would mean arguments would not take place until the spring.
The justices have a variety of pending appeals they could choose to hear that deal in one way or another with gay marriage.
One set of cases looks at whether same-sex couples who are legally married can be deprived of a range of federal benefits that are available to heterosexual couples. Another case deals with California’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and federal court rulings striking down the amendment. An Arizona case deals with a state law that revoked domestic partner benefits, making them available only to married couples. Arizona’s constitution bans gay marriage.
“At age 76, Justice Scalia isn’t going to be around forever, but a President Mitt Romney would ensure that Scalia’s head-in-the-sand judicial philosophy lives on long after the anti-gay justice leaves the bench,” John Becker at Truth Wins Out writes today:
As Bill Keller pointed out in the New York Times earlier this year, Romney “is committed to filling any Supreme Court vacancies with Scalias.”
For the record, I haven’t suddenly started entertaining pie-in-the-sky hallucinations about Scalia casting a pro-equality vote. I just think it’s more than a little imprudent to be making specific comments about an issue that’s almost certain to go before the Supreme Court in the upcoming term. And “homosexual sodomy?” Come on, Tony, show some respect in the terminology you use. You’re supposed to be an allegedly impartial arbiter of the law, not a hellfire-and-brimstone fundamentalist preacher.
A note to LGBT folks and our allies: Stay home November 6, don’t vote, or vote for Romney, and you’ll find yourself with several more Scalias on the Supreme Court. The choice is yours.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.