Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia was only 50 years old when he was appointed to the US Supreme Court in 1986 by Ronald Reagan to fill the vacancy left when William Renquist became chief justice. He's been influencing the laws of this country in a way that only eight other people in the world can do for the past eighteen years and he could very well go on influencing the laws for another eighteen. In fact, if he stays on the court, and Bush appoints someone who will appease the radical religious right to replace Justice Rehnquist or Justice O'Connor, Scalia's influence may be felt far more than it is now. And that would be a very bad thing for America.

Scalia believes that "a religion-neutral government does not fit with an America that reflects belief in God in everything from its money to its military." What Mr. Scalia doesn't seem to realize is that "In God We Trust" was not put on any US currency until 1837 by an Act of Congress. It would have been very possible for the founding fathers to have decreed that such a motto be placed on our currency, but they did not because they believed in the wall of separation between church and state. The words "under God" were not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, again by an Act of Congress. In the case of the Pledge, the original author, Francis Bellamy, intentionally left out reference to God because of his disgust at the racial bigotry he found in churches as well as being forced to leave his own church because of his political views. I wonder if the people who are fighting to keep the words "under God" in the pledge realize they are reciting words written by a man with socialist beliefs. Reverend Bellamy's children and grandchildren all seem to think that their father/grandfather would have been happy with the decision of the 9th US Circuit Court that the words "under God" were unconstitutional.1

Later in his address to the interfaith community, Scalia mentioned that European leaders almost never refer to God. Later, he is quoted as saying, "Did it turn out that, by reason of the separation of church and state, the Jews were safer in Europe than they were in the United States of America? I don't think so."

This man is a US Supreme Court justice and he is asserting that the Jews in Europe during WWII were killed because modern day European leaders never refer to God? Does this man understand history? Has this man watched or even read anything about Hitler and how he referred to God and the "motherland" and suggested that the Third Reich had Divine approval? Did the man ever read When Democracy Failed? Does the man not understand what led up to WWII or realize that WWII was just unfinished business from WWI that Hitler used to his advantage? (Kind of like how Bush used "unfinished business" from the first Gulf War to launch a second one.) This kind of fear-mongering and illogical reasoning is why the radical religious right is so dangerous! They will twist words, ideas and even facts to make it fit their agenda.

Scalia claims to be an "originalist"— someone who does not interpret the Constitution for changing times but goes on the exact words. A literal reading of the Constitution— much like radical religious right fundamentalists take a literal reading of the Bible. Yet if you look at the Second Amendment, it reads, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Does he apply the "well-regulated militia" part to the right of the people to bear arms? Apparently not since he supports the right of a felon to own a firearm unless a state has a law specifically forbidding it. And if he's not going to make adjustments for changing times, perhaps he should advocate that the firearms that one could own are those that were available at the time of the signing of the US Constitution: ball and powder muskets and pistols. Like all radical religious right fundamentalists, Scalia picks and chooses the parts of the US Constitution he wishes to "literally" interpret and the parts he does not. In an article Mr. Scalia wrote himself called "God's Justice and Ours", he writes, "As it is, however, the Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead— or, as I prefer to put it, enduring. It means today not what current society (much less the Court) thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted." How does this fit in with his views that American leaders need to mention God more since the word God does not occur even once with in the US Constitution? How does Justice Scalia interpret the Ninth Amendment, which reads: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This clearly states that rights are retained by the people even if they are not enumerated (ie, specifically named) in the US Constitution. How then does he define those rights?

Scalia has often gone on record as questioning the constitutional guarantee of "right to privacy" because the word "privacy" is not used anywhere in the Constitution. As a result, when it comes to the issue of abortion, Justice Scalia is very clearly in the camp of the radical religious right. If the case were to come before the courts seeking to overturn Roe v Wade, there is no doubt whatsoever that Scalia would vote to overturn that decision. In the article "God's Justice and Ours" he writes, "Thus, my difficulty with Roe v. Wade is a legal rather than a moral one: I do not believe (and, for two hundred years, no one believed) that the Constitution contains a right to abortion." What Scalia doesn't understand is that for two hundred years, no one believed that anyone else had a right to PREVENT a woman from having an abortion either! It was not until the radical religious right began trying to prevent women from having abortions that it became an issue. And this is the perfect example of why Scalia's way of viewing the constitution is so dangerous. There is no way that the founding fathers could have foreseen modern society and how to deal with the complex legal, moral and ethical issues that surround it.

Scalia became involved in controversy in February, 2004, when, at the invite of Dick Cheney, Scalia (who was set to hear a case against Dick Cheney) accompanied the VP on a duck hunting trip. As a result of this potential conflict of interest, Scalia was asked to recuse himself from the case but steadfastly refused. Yet federal law states, "any justice or judge shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might be questioned." Where is Mr. Scalia's "textualist" interpretation of this law? The man takes a duck hunting trip with one of the parties in a lawsuit that will come before his court and he can't see how that might cause people to question his impartiality? The law does not say that his impartiality has to be disproven. It says "might be questioned". It was questioned. By several members of the US Congress. Therefore, by strict textualist law, Scalia should have recused himself. Again, just another example of how fundamentalists pick and choose which parts of their sacred text they wish to enforce. Ironically, according to The Supreme Court Historical Society "In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Scalia said that he considered the most important part of the Constitution to be the system of 'checks and balances among the three that no one of them is able to 'run roughshod' over the liberties of the people.'" [Note: When I checked this link on 1/22/10, the bio had changed and there is no mention of the above. But I'm leaving it here anyway because that's what I found when I put this page together.] And here he is blurring the lines of checks and balances between those three branches. Again, more hypocrisy.

In March, 2006, Scalia was photographed leaving a church, making an obscene gesture to the press. (Note: The link will no longer work. Check the archives of the site for the words "Photographer: Herald got it right" and you can find it in the archives. You can see the actual picture here.) Of course, Scalia denies the photographer's account of the story, but the picture proves that Scalia is only trying to save face. This is the kind of man we have on the highest court in our nation!

Why, when the actions of these government officials goes so against the grain of the American ideals, do so many people still support them? For an answer to that, please read my thoughts on the whole issue.

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1 An interesting side note here. Rather frightening, actually. From Pledge QandA we read (and it would behoove everyone to read the entire page): "When Bellamy wrote his Pledge in August, 1892, he was well aware of the Balch Pledge. In 1892 George T. Balch was the most influential person in the development of a patriotic flag ritual for the classroom. He was a New York City auditor and had developed a patriotic verbal flag salute and ritual, the first verbal flag salute used in American public schools. The students in his New York Public Schools gave his "American Patriotic Salute" as follows: students touched first their foreheads, then their hearts, reciting, "We give our Heads - and our Hearts -to God and our Country." Then with a right arm outstretched and palms down in the direction of the flag, they competed the salute 'One Country! One Language! One Flag!'" Does that image remind you of anything? Hint: Sieg Heil!

Click on any of the links below to read more articles about Antonin Scalia.
Antonin Scalia on the Issues Antonin Scalia on the Issues
Synopsis: See where Antonin Scalia stands on the issues by seeing his past rulings and decisions.
The 2000 Election The 2000 Election
Synopsis: An article discussing Scalia's role in the final results of the 2000 election. The article has a decidedly anti-Scalia flavor.
GOP Hypocrite of the Week GOP Hypocrite of the Week
Synopsis: A humorous yet serious editorial on the controversy around Scalia's trip with Cheney.
Six of Spades Six of Spades
Synopsis: Remember Bush's "Deck of Infamy" (or whatever it was called) wherein he made war more of a card game (maybe it makes it easier to swallow, I don't know)? Well, as to be expected, there have been a couple decks in which members of the radical religious right and the neo-conservative movement have been made into a deck of cards. Scalia is the six of spades in one such deck. This is a short blurb on a blog in Canada, but pay careful attention to the quote on the card and the quote near the bottom of the blog, taken from the above referenced article "God's Justice and Ours". So much for separation of church and state. Oh, wait, that's not written in the Constitution, so it doesn't exist in Scalia's mind despite the fact that Thomas Jefferson's autobiography clearly states that was the purpose.
Bully on the Bench Bully on the Bench
Synopsis: An article by Elaine Cassel that discusses Scalia's habit of deriding and making fun of those who hold different views than he.
Jews Are Safer in the US Jews Are Safer in the US
Synopsis: Scalia's latest gaffe while speaking at a synogogue in which he insinuates (incorrectly) that it was because of the separation of church and state that Hitler was able to rise to power and kill so many Jews.

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