February 14, 2016

The real Antonin Scalia

The media's gushing depiction of Antonin Scalia has an exceptionally intelligent justice flies in the face of facts like these:

Amy Davidson, New Yorker, 2012 -  “Justice Scalia, I’m gay, and as somebody who is gay I find these comparisons extraordinarily offensive,” Duncan Hosie, a freshman at Princeton, said to Antonin Scalia on Monday. In front of eight hundred other students who had come to hear the Justice speak, Hosie cited Scalia’s dissents in two crucial gay-rights cases, Romer v. Evans, from 1996 (the one in which Scalia wrote, “But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible—murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals—and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct….”) and Lawrence v. Texas, from 2003 (“The Texas statute undeniably seeks to further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are “immoral and unacceptable,” Bowers, supra, at 196—the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity…. Even if the Texas law does deny equal protection to “homosexuals as a class,” that denial still does not need to be justified by anything more than a rational basis, which our cases show is satisfied by the enforcement of traditional notions of sexual morality.”) Hosie, who is eighteen, and was a small child when both of those cases were decided, wanted to know if Scalia, who is seventy-six, and the longest serving justice on the Supreme Court, had any second thoughts, if only about his tone.

“I think there is a 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,” Hosie said. “Do you have any regret or shame for drawing these comparisons you did in your dissents?”

Scalia did not. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against these other things?” he said to Hosie. “Of course we can. I don’t apologize for the things I raised. I’m not comparing homosexuality to murder. I’m comparing the principle that a society may not adopt moral sanctions, moral views, against certain conduct. I’m comparing that with respect to murder and that with respect to homosexuality.” He said that it was an argument by way of reduction to the absurd—and, since this is Scalia, he did so with a note of something between sarcasm, condescension, and stubbornness: “It’s a type of argument that I thought you would have known…. I’m surprised you aren’t persuaded.”

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Can´t this Justice understand the difference between an action involving a victim and one that does not?