Friday, January 14, 2011

Antonin Scalia [Paraphrased]: There's No Reason for the Supreme Court

Some parts of the blogosphere (and even the mainstream media) understandably exploded when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia went on record saying
Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't.
Now, I can understand that Scalia is an originalist or literalist or strict constructionist or whatever your term for it is and that he doesn't think that anything can be read into the U.S. Constitution that isn't explicitly spelled out there - I mean, I think he's profoundly wrong on that point, but I understand that.

What really puzzles me is what he says next:
If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don't need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don't like the death penalty anymore, that's fine. You want a right to abortion? There's nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn't mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it's a good idea and pass a law. That's what democracy is all about. It's not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.
Setting aside the fact that he's implying that women are not equal citizens under the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, what I find most bizarre about this statement is that he seems to be saying that the Supreme Court is unnecessary, that there doesn't need to be any final arbiter of the laws passed by legislatures - if the people want something, they'll elect leaders to pass the laws needed to do it, and that's that, no Supreme Court necessary. Sure, you might get genocidal laws blessed by the legislature, such as Uganda's proposed anti-homosexuality bill, but hey, that's democracy for ya.

So, Justice Scalia, if you think the Supreme Court is so useless, why not just retire so you can spend your golden years shooting things with Dick Cheney rather than wasting everyone's time uselessly interpreting laws?

No comments:

Post a Comment