Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, likely the most-conservative on the Supreme Court, was forced to defend his opinion — on marriage, equality, and anti-gay bigotry, and his comparison of anti-sodomy laws with laws banning bestiality, and murder – to a college freshman while delivering a lecture at Princeton University yesterday afternoon.
”In your dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, you equated laws against gay sex to laws against bestiality,” Duncan Hosie said to Justice Scalia, before the 76-year old jurist interrupted the freshman.
“I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective,” Scalia responded, suggesting that legislative bodies can ban what they believe to be immoral, according to a report by the AP:
“It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,’” Scalia told freshman Duncan Hosie of San Francisco during the question-and-answer period. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
Scalia said he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both.
Then he deadpanned: “I’m surprised you aren’t persuaded.”
Hosie said afterward that he was not persuaded by Scalia’s answer. He said he believes Scalia’s writings tend to “dehumanize” gays.
Hosie told The New Civil Rights Movement via email Scalia “interrupted me in the middle so I didn’t get to ask it in its entirety,” and provided the full text of his question:
In your dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, you equated laws against gay sex to laws against bestiality.
You wrote, “The Texas statute undeniably seeks to further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are “immoral and unacceptable,”, the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity.”
Justice Scalia, I’m gay, and as somebody who is gay I find these comparisons extraordinarily offensive. I think there is an fundamental difference between arguing the constitution does not protect gay sex, which is a defensible and legitimate legal position I disagree with, and comparing gays to people who commit murder or engage in bestiality. Do you have any regret or shame for drawing these comparisons you did in your dissents?
Scalia has been traveling the country promoting his book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.
It is widely expected, given Scalia’s comments, and the fact he is a constitutional “originalist” or “textualist,” believing only in the exact meaning of the Constitution when and as it was written, that he will decide against marriage equality advocates when the court hears the Prop 8 and DOMA cases next year.
At least one person is asking a relevant question, given the fact the court just accepted two marriage cases. Karoli, a progressive writer, tweets:
— Karoli (@Karoli) December 11, 2012
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