Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Antonin Scalia: The Supreme Court Mullah

As we await the rulings today in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor it's worthwhile to look at a piece in Slate that examines the bigotry of Justice Antonin Scalia who, in my opinion, becomes more insane and unfit for a position on the Court with each passing day.  The man cares nothing for the rights and lives of others - as is the norm for the Christofascists - and would seemingly be better placed among the mullahs in Tehran or conservative regions of Pakistan.  Here are some article highlights that follow up on Scalia's rant on "morality" last week in North Carolina:

In a speech last week titled “Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters,” Justice Antonin Scalia told the North Carolina Bar Association that the court has no place acting as a “judge moralist” in issues better left to the people. Since judges aren’t qualified—or constitutionally authorized—to set moral standards, he argued, the people should decide what’s morally acceptable.

But does Scalia, whose quarter-century on the bench has marked him as the court’s moral scold for his finger-wagging views on social issues, have a coherent understanding of what it means to say something is or isn’t moral, and of morality’s proper role in the law?

Scalia would have you believe it’s liberal, pro-gay sympathizers who are imposing their own brand of moral laxity on the nation, and unconstitutionally using the courts to do it. His angry dissent in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case ending sodomy bans—decided 10 years ago this week—blasted the court for embracing “a law-profession culture that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda [which is] directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.”

“Countless judicial decisions and legislative enactments,” he wrote, “have relied on the ancient proposition that a governing majority's belief that certain sexual behavior is ‘immoral and unacceptable’ constitutes a rational basis for regulation.”

Yet as Sandra Day O’Connor pointed out in her concurring opinion in Lawrence, that’s not actually true. At least when you’re singling out a group for separate treatment. “We have never held that moral disapproval, without any other asserted state interest, is a sufficient rationale under the Equal Protection Clause to justify a law that discriminates among groups of persons.”

He defends the people’s right to legislate their belief that some forms of sex are “immoral and unacceptable,” to oppose, by law, “a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive,” and to pass public indecency statutes to protect “order and morality.”

If what’s really at issue are acts that threaten safety, health, and order, why do people like Scalia keep insisting that mere moral disapproval, rather than preventing harm, should be a constitutionally legitimate basis to limit people’s rights?  The entire anti-gay movement has gotten this memo. Which is why arguments that gay people are sick, disgusting and all-around morally bad have yielded, since the 1990s, to arguments alleging that gays threaten to cause concrete harm to American families and institutions.

Scalia seems to reduce morality to feelings and tastes alone. He wants judges to get out of the way and respect that “people may feel that their disapprobation of homosexual conduct is strong enough” to pass laws against them. For him, it was the very “impossibility of distinguishing homosexuality from other traditional ‘morals’ offenses” that allowed the court to ban sodomy prior to Lawrence. But homosexuality is distinguishable from other morals “offenses.” Assisted suicide, incest, adultery, pornography—all these arguably cause some form of harm to living creatures, while two women loving each other just doesn’t.

What we should no longer be able to get away with in the 21st century is calling something immoral just because we don’t like it. Genuine moral judgment is not reducible to whatever people feel, what they like or don’t like. (Isn’t that what lax liberals are alleged to believe?) Morality is not just whatever views a majority has long held, and it’s not simply what you learned on your mother’s knee or whatever it says in your faith’s scripture. Moral belief is a grounded judgment about what harms or helps living things. Yet somehow, homosexuality’s become just about the only thing left that people get to call immoral without every explaining why.

No comments: