Just how radical is Justice Scalia? Well, for starters he doesn’t believe that citizens should have the right to elect their U.S. Senators.
In a colorful debate with Justice Breyer, Scalia came out strongly opposed to the 17th Amendment, a position that places the Justice to the far, far right of even many of his conservative colleagues on the Court. According to Scalia “There’s very little [of the Constitution] that I would change. I would change it back to what they wrote, in some respects. The 17th Amendment has changed things enormously. We changed that in a burst of progressivism in 1913, and you can trace the decline of so-called states’ rights throughout the rest of the 20th century.”
For Justice Scalia, the preferable way to elect representatives to the Senate is not to grant citizens the right to vote directly on their representatives, but to have state legislatures appoint Senators. It’s a view that is hostile to voting rights generally and one, given Scalia’s opinion in Bush v. Gore, that should really come as little surprise.
Contrast Scalia’s hostility toward individual voting rights with his embrace of corporate speech rights, or individual gun rights, and it’s easy to see how his jurisprudence reflects less of a constitutional fidelity and almost entirely a hard right conservative political agenda. At 74, Scalia is the longest sitting Justice currently on the Court and one who wields a tremendous amount of influence with the other conservative members. Given these recent public comments, it is clear just how far to the right the Court has lurched.
photo courtesy of stephen masker via Flickr