Thursday, December 13, 2012

Scalia Should Shut Up

No doubt some of you have seen the story about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's remarks this week at Princeton University in which he compared homosexuality to murder. It was in answer to a student's question about his anti-LGBT comments. Scalia referred to his position as "the reduction to the absurd.":

"If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have moral feelings against murder? Can we have them against other things?"

He said he wasn't drawing a comparison between "sodomy" and "murder," but was showing the parallels between the bans on both. And he further stated that while he doesn't think it's necessary for state legislatures to enact laws against behavior they consider to be immoral, he does think it's "effective." And he apparently doesn't think much of the Bill of Rights saying that, "Every tinhorned dictator has a Bill of Rights."

It has never been a secret that Justice Scalia is a right-wing ideologue. That was clear when he was nominated by the late President Ronald Reagan in 1986. I remember being floored that the Democrats were willing to go along with the chuckling Scalia when it seemed clear that Reagan's intent was to stack the high court with people who might overturn the Roe v. Wade decision which made abortion safe and legal. For me, it was more evidence that the Democratic Party would be willing to throw anyone under the bus to appear that they weren't obstructionists (like a certain Tea Party-infused other group...).

Now, here we are a few months away from the high court hearing cases on marriage equality and the senior most justice is spouting off about what he thinks is "moral" and equating support of homosexuality being the same moral equivalent as advocating for murder. I don't really care what he personally believes. But as a sitting justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, it grates on me that he would make such statements in advance of hearing a case that is of tremendous importance to me and thousands of other LGBT Americans. And he likely will not recuse himself. It further upsets me how many people are shrugging this off as a, "We all knew where he stood, so what's new?"

When a person takes an oath to serve as a judge or a justice, their moral beliefs must not be the basis from which they make decisions that affect the lives of others. Furthermore, when one is a judge or a justice, one knows that it is proper judicial conduct to refuse to comment in any way on a topic that is due to come before them lest they be seen as impartial.

Obviously, Justice Scalia doesn't care about that, and too many of my friends seem to think that's OK. It is not, was not, and never will be OK. This is the kind of behavior that undermines public confidence in the judicial branch, not just at the national level, but down to your local judge hearing cases on traffic infractions. Nominations such as Scalia's helped to politicize what should be a process free from undo influence from political parties, or the Roman Catholic Church, or anyone else.

I thought I couldn't trust Scalia to hear the marriage equality cases. Now I know I can't.

He should have just kept his mouth shut.

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