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Antonin Scalia Hub



04/19/2007


Richard Socarides On Justice Scalia's NY Mag Interview And The Progress of LGBT Rights

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As we reported earlier this week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sat down with New York Magazine's Jennifer Senior recently for a wide-ranging interview that was filled with, well, exactly what you'd expect from a man known for his fiery dissents and come-at-me public persona.

Aside from a somewhat baffling and wild exchange about the devil (he's out there, according to Scalia, and he's decided to take on a lower profile compared to those stories you've read about in the Bible as a tactic), the justice raised some eyebrows when he told Senior that he doesn't know anybody who's openly gay.  "I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual," he admitted to her. "Everybody does."

Scalia--as his New York Magazine interview makes patently clear, is a devout Catholic.  But as LGBT rights advocate Richard Socarides, writing in the New Yorker, points out, that very faith is currently experiencing a self-evaluation of its approach towards sexual orientation in the highest echelons of its power structure:

The most breathtaking development since the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage rights, three and a half months ago, and the one with obvious global impact, was Pope Francis’ basic acceptance of gay people within the context of Roman Catholic theology—“Who am I to judge?”—signaling a turning point of historic proportions. A Quinnipiac poll late last week showed that American Catholics approve of the Pope’s new approach by a margin of sixty-eight per cent to twenty-three per cent. No doubt the dramatic progress we have seen in the U.S. impacted the Pope’s thinking.

Shortly after the Pope said that it was time to end the church’s focus on demonizing gay people (and its “obsession” with issues like abortion and contraception), Andrew Solomon, a longtime gay-rights advocate and the author of “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” told me in an e-mail, “The primary obstacle to gay rights—and indeed to various forms of human rights—is prejudice and bigotry that have been encoded in religion.” Solomon believes, as many do, that “the Catholic Church was long set up as our most vigorous enemy, and it’s to be hoped, very profoundly, that this change in position will filter down through the Catholic hierarchy and make religion once more the champion of loving-kindness, and no longer the instrument of oppression.”

Even Scalia felt the effect, though he argued that it was a matter of emphasis, not doctrinal change: “He’s the Vicar of Christ. He’s the chief. I don’t run down the pope.”

Socarides points out the significance of such a shift--even if it is only in the tone of the church's position--and underscores its ability to have a lasting impact. Earlier this year, the association of American bishops wrote in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that equal marriage rights for same-sex couples "would compromise the ability of states to accommodate religious and moral objections to homosexual conduct on the part of employers and individuals." As Socarides pithily puts it, "So much for that."

Senior's interview with Justice Scalia reveals a man happily inhabiting a island of conservative thought that seems far removed from today's reality--it's incredible that he could live in our nation's capital in 2013 and know zero gay people personally.  But Socarides's point is a good one: as Scalia stands firm, history--and the very institution responsible in many ways for his opinions about LGBT people--continues to shift around him.

(photo courtesy of Platon for New York Magazine)


Justice Antonin Scalia Suspects He Has Gay Friends, is an Avid Watcher of 'Duck Dynasty'

New York magazine has published a long interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in which he expounds on flogging, the notion that there are "intelligent reasons" to treat ment and women differently, his morning reading habits (the WSJ and Washington Times), the F-word, friending on Facebook, his favorite sparring partner on the bench, and his favorite TV show - which is Duck Dynasty (nuff said).

ScaliaHe also talked about the Pope and gays, and revealed that he might have gay friends, discussed what he wrote in Lawrence v. Texas, and Anthony Kennedy's legacy on gay rights.

Here's the gay part:

The one thing I did think, as [the Pope] said those somewhat welcoming things to gay men and women, is, Huh, this really does show how much our world has changed. I was wondering what kind of personal exposure you might have had to this sea change.

I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual. Everybody does.

Have any of them come out to you?

No. No. Not that I know of.

Has your personal attitude softened some?

Toward what?

Homosexuality.

I don’t think I’ve softened. I don’t know what you mean by softened.

If you talk to your grandchildren, they have different opinions from you about this, right?

I don’t know about my grandchildren. I know about my children. I don’t think they and I differ very much. But I’m not a hater of homosexuals at all.

I still think it’s Catholic teaching that it’s wrong. Okay? But I don’t hate the people that engage in it. In my legal opinions, all I’ve said is that I don’t think the Constitution requires the people to adopt one view or the other.

There was something different about your DOMA opinion, I thought. It was really pungent, yes, but you seemed more focused on your colleagues’ jurisprudence. You didn’t talk about a gay lobby, or about the fact that people have the right to determine what they consider moral. In Lawrence v. Texas, you said Americans were within their rights in “protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

I would write that again. But that’s not saying that I personally think it’s destructive. Americans have a right to feel that way. They have a democratic right to do that, and if it is to change, it should change democratically, and not at the ukase of a Supreme Court.

The what?

U-K-A-S-E. Yeah. I think that’s how you say it. It’s a mandate. A decree.

Whatever you think of the opinion, Justice ­Kennedy is now the Thurgood Marshall of gay rights.

[Nods.]

I don’t know how, by your lights, that’s going to be regarded in 50 years.

I don’t know either. And, frankly, I don’t care. Maybe the world is spinning toward a wider acceptance of homosexual rights, and here’s Scalia, standing athwart it. At least standing athwart it as a constitutional entitlement. But I have never been custodian of my legacy. When I’m dead and gone, I’ll either be sublimely happy or terribly unhappy.

Read the full interview HERE.


Scalia Says He's 'Waiting for the Second Shoe to Drop' to Show His Views on Gay Marriage

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told Reuters he's "waiting for the second shoe to drop" to express his views on gay marriage:

A_scalia"I haven't expressed my view about gay marriage," Scalia, a noted conservative said, adding that the decision itself only applied to a narrow piece of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

"The issue in the DOMA case was not whether the Constitution requires states to allow gay marriage. That was not the question at all," Scalia said at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, outside Boston. "The question is whether Congress can define marriage in all of the statues that Congress enacted to mean only marriage between a man and a woman."

In his dissenting opinion on that ruling, Scalia, who was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, wrote that the majority ignored procedural obstacles he said should have prevented the court from taking up the matter in the first place.


Justice Scalia Calls Gays an 'Invented Minority'

In a speech to the Federalist Society  in Bozeman, Montana yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia called gays an "invented minority" when he referenced recent rulings on same-sex marriage, the AP reports:

A_scalia“It’s not up to the courts to invent new minorities that get special protections,” Scalia told a packed hotel ballroom in southwestern Montana.

The Supreme Court earlier this year cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California and struck down part of a federal law that prevents legally married gay couples from receiving benefits. Scalia voted against the majority of justices.

Changes to the Constitution were made to protect minorities and to give women the right to vote, but that’s not how the court operates today, he said. Rather, a majority of five judges decide issues that should be in the hands of Congress or made through a change to the Constitution.

The Billings Gazette adds:

“We’re now in an age when the high court’s opinions speak of an evolving Constitution,” he said. “It means what it ought to mean. And who decides what it ought to mean?

“Nine lawyers. Actually five lawyers. What, are you crazy? Who would ever set up a system like that?”

Scalia, considered an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court’s conservative wing, said the court’s justices are no better suited to decide what rights ought to exist than is “Joe Sixpack.”

“These aren’t questions for lawyers,” he said. “These are the kind of questions that society debates and decides.”


Antonin Scalia Condemns Judicial Activism, Invokes The Holocaust

Antonin Scalia

This weekend in Snowmass, CO Justice Antonin Scalia spoke to a gathering of the Utah State Bar Association. The "strict originalist" bemoaned judicial activism and his colleagues treating the Constitution as a "living document" in a speech titled "Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters." His argument was that elected officials, not unelected judges, should be the ones to legislate society's moral views.

Justice Scalia wasted no time in invoking Godwin's Law, opening his speech with the claim that judges interpreting the law in ways that reflected "the spirit of the age" in 1930's Germany was what led to the rise of the Nazis and, ultimately, the holocaust. He also pointed out that Supreme Court interpretation of the Constitution wasn't necessary at the turn of the century in response to the women's suffrage movement. However, he conveniently omitted that it was due to the Supreme Court intervention that schools were desegregated and interracial marriages were made legal.

Scalia received a standing ovation for his speech, the attendees apparently unaware that the first person to invoke Godwin's Law loses the argument.


Scalia's Intemperate DOMA Dissent and The Next Marriage Case

By ARI EZRA WALDMAN

La-511969927.jpg-20120626The "What's Next" series takes an in depth look at marriage and gay rights, in general, after the Supreme Court's momentous rulings striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8. Today's column looks at Justice Scalia's dissent in Windsor.

It may seem dissonant to discuss a dissent before a majority opinion, but Justice Scalia's sometimes-snarky, often-intemperate, and always-ballsy dissent in Windsor v. United States teaches us much about where we are going, the struggles we have ahead, and about the justice himself.

Justice Kennedy's majority opinion, discussed briefly here, struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a violation of equal protection and due process. Justice Scalia not only disagreed; he disagreed with an unusually cold chip on his shoulder.

Scalia's dissent is a tableau of inconsistency, a magician's misdirection, and oversimplification: he rails against judicial intervention, but calls for the very judicial immodesty he says he despises; he says the case is about letting Congress do its job and confuses you when he gets around to talking about what the majority actually did; and, he presumes that the fight for marriage is over, remaining willfully blind to the very obstacles people like him are putting in our faces.

Follow me AFTER THE JUMP as I show how wrong Scalia was at every turn, both in his manifestly exaggerated predictions and his legal reasoning.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Scalia's Intemperate DOMA Dissent and The Next Marriage Case" »


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