7. The Devil is One Sneaky Dude
On matters of religion, Scalia is not afraid to say that be believes in the Devil. It’s “basic” Catholic doctrine after all. When asked if he’s seen evidence of the Devil lately though, he has this insight:
You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore. … It’s because he’s smart. … What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.
Oh, and don’t be incredulous that Scalia believes in the Devil, as interviewer Jennifer Senior apparently was. He gets offended. Most of America believes in the Devil! Jesus believed in the Devil! He’ll even tell you: ”I was offended by that. I really was.”
8. Atheism Might Be the Devil’s Work
When pointed out that Scalia’s belief that non-belief is the work of the Devil has serious implications for atheists, Scalia rallies:
I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.
He appears to clarify it’s atheism and not atheists that might be one product of the machinations of the Dark Lord (my term, not his):
But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament. … He got wilier.
Clearly the Devil will role with the times even if Scalia won’t.
9. On the Nasty Situation in Congress
It’s a nasty time. It’s a nasty time. When I was first in Washington, and even in my early years on this Court, I used to go to a lot of dinner parties at which there were people from both sides. Democrats, Republicans. Katharine Graham used to have dinner parties that really were quite representative of Washington. It doesn’t happen anymore.
Earlier in the interview, Scalia says that power is firmly invested in Congress as it is the “900-pound gorilla in Washington” and that Congress can “roll over a president” if it should so choose. He even goes so far as to say that it is Congress, not the president, who will be the source of tyranny.
Scalia isn’t directly referring to the current shutdown, but it’s difficult not to see this as a comment on the current political standoff over the Affordable Care Act.
10. Does Scalia Ever Regret His Tone? And When Will he Know When it’s Time to Retire?
The tone of Scalia’s opinions have been described in a great many ways, not all of them favorable. Does he regret that? Never.
My tone is sometimes sharp. But I think sharpness is sometimes needed to demonstrate how much of a departure I believe the thing is. Especially in my dissents.
He clarifies he’s writing dissents for law students so that they will take notice of the robust reasoning.
And lastly, on the topic of when he’ll know when it’s time to retire his answer is long but simple: when he’s no longer enjoying it.
Sadly for women’s rights, gay rights and a broad set of other constitutional questions Scalia isn’t only still enjoying his job, he says it’s getting easier.
As to the question whether Scalia is punking the American people, unfortunately he seems uncompromisingly serious.
Given that, before he retires, Scalia will likely weigh a host of legal questions like a woman’s right to access abortion services and whether there is a fundamental right to marriage equality, we might consider this interview no laughing matter at all. That said, it does offer an insight into a man that is profoundly interesting even if we find his opinions, and his power to make good on them, questionable.
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