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5 Absurd Scalia Quotes You Just Won’t Believe

5 Absurd Scalia Quotes You Just Won’t Believe

Justice Antonin Scalia is making headlines around the world for comparing homosexuality to murder and bestiality — it’s reductio ad absurdum, he says. Critics are hitting back that the truly absurd thing about this is Scalia’s position on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Below are five Scalia quotes you might find hard to believe actually came out of the mouth of a Supreme Court justice.

1) Scalia defends comparing homosexuality to murder and bestiality — Scalia, visiting Princeton to promote his book “Reading Law,” was challenged by one student about his fondness for using overblown arguments against homosexuality, for instance in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas opinion where, in his dissent, he said Texas had a right to exclusively ban homosexual sodomy in much the same way states had an interest in banning bestiality and murder.

The AP quotes the incident as follows:

Scalia was asked by a gay student why he equates laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder.

“It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,’” Scalia told [freshman Duncan] Hosie of San Francisco during the question-and-answer period. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”

Scalia said he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both.

Scalia can pretend that he’s not equating the two, but that is precisely what he is doing in failing to recognize that homosexual sex is a private consensual act as distinct from murder and bestiality as can be. This is not just patronizing, it’s also deeply flawed thinking and Scalia should not need to resort to this, or his slippery slope of “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?”

2) Scalia on how “easy” his job is —  Earlier this year, Scalia was given the opportunity to elucidate his “textualist” approach to the Constitution and how that meant that for him controversial topics like the death penalty, abortion and gay marriage were all “easy.”

He told an American Enterprise Institute audience:

“The death penalty? It’s easy. Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. [...] Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion,” Scalia added. “Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”

Remember judicial impartiality and the mandate that every case be given fair weight? Not for Scalia, apparently.

3) Scalia says sex discrimination is constitutionally okay – At a recent lecture at the University of California Hastings College of Law,  Scalia decided to expound on his view that the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or, for that matter, sex based discrimination. He said that from the 1970s onward, the courts had wrongly been applying the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection because it was never intended to apply that way:

“Nobody thought it was directed against sex discrimination,” he said. Although gender bias “shouldn’t exist,” he said, the idea that it is constitutionally forbidden is “a modern invention.”

This puts Scalia dangerously out of step with a majority of legal analysts and, perhaps more worryingly, allows room for those religious conservatives who, much like Scalia in fact, wish to return America’s legal landscape to a time less fettered by a robust and evolving Constitution.

4) Scalia uses restrictions against emancipated slaves against the DREAM Act — When the DREAM Act became law, Arizona took it upon itself to pass its own legislation with specific areas that directly opposed certain DREAM Act provisions. A challenge was brought and, in due time, the case reached the SCOTUS.

Scalia decided to support his dissenting argument against the Court striking down SB 1070 citing as precedent 19th-century restrictions on the emancipation of slaves:

In the first 100 years of the Republic, the States enacted numerous laws restricting the immigration of certain classes of aliens, including convicted crimi­nals, indigents, persons with contagious diseases, and (in Southern States) freed blacks. Neuman, The Lost Century of American Immigration (1776–1875), 93 Colum. L. Rev. 1833, 1835, 1841–1880 (1993). State laws not only pro­vided for the removal of unwanted immigrants but also imposed penalties on unlawfully present aliens and those who aided their immigration.

As Care2 blogger Jessica Pieklo wrote in reference to the background for this story: Justice Scalia, your racism is showing.

5) Scalia undecided on if there’s a right to bear a rocket launcher — In discussing the Aurora shootings earlier this year, Justice Scalia told a Fox news host that he firmly backed the right to bear arms, clarifying this did not include manning a cannon but that there might be an argument for carrying a rocket launcher.

Watch the video below:

I think, as a general rule of thumb, if your reading of the law does not automatically preclude the general public carrying rocket-launchers, you need to take a closer look at your “textualist” approach.

Scalia: Impartiality and Gay Marriage

As a coda to all of this, it is worth noting the Supreme Court just agreed to take up two key gay marriage cases. As above, Scalia seems to know how he’ll vote on this issue. With this in mind, it will be interesting to see what depths he will plunder in order to back up his arguments.


Related Reading:

Supreme Court Protects Early Voting in Ohio

Finally! Supreme Court Will Reconsider Citizens United

5 FAQs About the Supreme Court’s Upcoming Gay Marriage Decisions

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Image credit: Italian Embassy.

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12:30PM PDT on Mar 28, 2013

Dennis, you make some excellent points.

Scalia's beliefs are both ridiculous and untenable, for example, when the Constitution was passed mutilation (such as cutting off a person's ears) was not considered "cruel and unusual punishment." People could also be executed for a wide variety of minor crimes. Minors and the mentally disabled could be executed without regard for their status. Today, such punishments are clearly considered "cruel and unusual." Scalia would force us into a historical freezer with no ability to evolve as a society.

How to you take concepts like liberty, justice, due process, equal protection, and freedom and freeze them in time and say that they can ONLY mean what they meant in the 1790's and they can NEVER mean more than that?

In my opinion Scalia is a horrible example of a legal scholar, also he is nothing but a conservative whore, who's so-called "strict constructionism'" he is willing to sell out in a heartbeat, when politically convenient.

12:19PM PDT on Mar 28, 2013

It can breath or be alive" Should have read: It can [not] breath or be alive.

12:16PM PDT on Mar 28, 2013

Supreme Justice Scalia stance on the Constitution is that it is dead piece of paper. that it can not evolve. It can breath or be alive. Basically that what the founding fathers wrote at the time was it. After that nothing else that American society does as it grows as a nation should any one look to the Constitution as a guide. Nor how to deal with issues that were not foreseen by those same founding fathers.

He is in my opinion has advocating that the Constitution is a piece of paper that is quickly falling to the way side in terms of being relevant in today society.

Stop and think through the ramifications of that thought for a moment.

Either the Constitution is as relevant today as it was 1776 when first written.. Or by the time the last colony ratified the document in 1790 (Rhode Island was the last former colony to ratify the Constitution.) was already quickly becoming an non-relevant piece of paper.

There are a few places that I do agree with Supreme Justice Scalia, but on his over all view of the Constitution I disagree completely.

12:30PM PST on Dec 23, 2012

Scalia, as I recall, is the guy who referred to the SCOTUS award of the presidency to G.W. Bush, by saying "Live with it!"
Well, many people died with it, (2 wars) clown!

12:07PM PST on Dec 23, 2012

As a matter of picking a small nit, I should like to observe that change and evolve are not interchangeable verbs. A change may be for the worse, while the general understanding of evolve is "for the better". In the case of the Constitution there have been amendments which could have been called changes, but not evolution. The Volstead Act (prohibition) could not be called evplutionary. The Repealing of that amendment could have been evolution. When discussing the Constitution, we should be very careful with the words we use. Look at the mayhem caused by people like Scalia.

11:54AM PST on Dec 23, 2012

Why doesn't someone start a petition which tells Scalia to recuse himself based on his pre-hearing pronouncements showing that he had already presented his opinion before the hearing? If a few million people sign it, it might make an impression on him and even if he does not recuse himself, he might keep his big mouth shut in the future.

7:14AM PST on Dec 19, 2012

What a bloody idiot!!!

6:10AM PST on Dec 19, 2012


4:00AM PST on Dec 19, 2012

Scalia is a perfect example of why SCOTUS should not be a lifetime appointment. A partisan out of touch man to say the least.

7:36AM PST on Dec 18, 2012

this guy is insane!!! why do they allow such moronic ignorant bastards on the supreme court?!?!?

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