Justice Scalia Wasn’t Really That Just

by
Jessica Renae Buxbaum
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was, without a doubt, a bold, brilliant man with a fiery, legal passion that surely cements the late justice’s political legacy.

antonin scalia

Yet his overwhelming bigotry and sweeping blockade against racial justice, reproductive rights and LGBT equality has made the branded moniker of “Justice Scalia” a rather contradictory title.

In numerous cases throughout his career as justice, Scalia ruled against same-sex equality. His notorious dissent on Lawrence v. Texas, which ruled anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional, solidified his anti-gay perspective.

His dissenting opinion was full of bigoted, backwards sentiments against the LGBT community that ignorantly assumed that progress should remain at a standstill and criminalization is warranted because society seemingly can’t handle a gay person in their public life.

"Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home,” he wrote. “They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive."

Scalia even took the absurd route of likening gay sexuality to grotesque acts such as bestiality and incest. 

“The Texas statute undeniably seeks to further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are ‘immoral and unacceptable,’ . . . the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity. Bowers held that this was a legitimate state interest,” Scalia wrote. “The Court embraces instead Justice [John Paul] Stevens’ declaration in his Bowers dissent, that ‘the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice,’ . . . This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation.”

And notably in 2015, Scalia sourly lamented the Supreme Court’s decision for marriage equality and marked it as encroaching beyond the court's authority.

“Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact— and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create ‘liberties’ that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention,” Scalia wrote in his dissenting opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Recommended: No One Really Knows How Justice Scalia Died

Women’s rights was another key issue Scalia was powerfully regressive on.

Scalia often used the theory of originalism (that the Constitution’s interpretations are constrained to the time they were enacted) to justify his abhorrent decisions, and thus argued against abortion by likening it to bigamy in his dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

“The issue is whether [abortion] is a liberty protected by the Constitution of the United States. I am sure that it is not. I reach that conclusion not because of anything so exalted as my views concerning the ‘concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life,’” Scalia wrote. “Rather, I reach it for the same reason I reach the conclusion that bigamy is not constitutionally protected-because of two simple facts: (1) the Constitution says nothing about it, and (2) the longstanding traditions of American society have permitted it to be legally proscribed.”

Yet it wasn’t just Scalia’s legal decisions that made him stand out as a staunch conservative and frank racist. He was constantly caught with his foot in his mouth (shamelessly, so) in the media’s spotlight over utterly narrow-minded remarks.

Most recently, during an oral argument over affirmative action at the University of Texas, Scalia suggested that African-American students just couldn’t keep up in advanced schools.

“There are – there are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to ­­ to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less­-advanced school, a less – a slower-track school where they do well,” Scalia said in December.

“One of – one of the briefs pointed out that – that most of the – most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas,” he added.

To say, Scalia was not a talented legal scholar is inaccurate, but to suggest he was fair or at all just is pure slander as the “justice” ripped at any ounce of social progress.  

Read more: Scalia Wouldn't Even Stand For GOP's SCOTUS Obstructionism

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