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.”
Judging by the number of phrases that relate to the human body – and there are more of them than of virtually any other topic – we may be just a touch just self-centered. Here’s a select list, with their meanings and origins:
A group of Arizona Republicans are eager to pass House Bill 2467 which would require all public high school graduates to recite the following oath in order to graduate:
I, _______, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; So help me God.
But what if you don’t believe in God? Too bad. Either ask something you don’t believe in to help you so you can graduate, or you lie. Which is creepy and wrong.
The Supreme Court justice was visiting Princeton University on Monday to discuss his latest book when a college freshman, who identifies as gay, asked Scalia about the comparison he has drawn between laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder.
“If we cannot have moral feelings against or objections to homosexuality, can we have it against anything?” Scalia said in response to the question, according to The Daily Princetonian. “I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective.”
Scalia told Princeton student Duncan Hosie that he is not equating sodomy with bestiality or murder, but drawing parallels between the bans.
The Supreme Court does not have the power to rule on the case the Justices have agreed to review on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, a Harvard law professor argued in a brief filed Thursday evening. The professor, Vicki C. Jackson, also argued against letting the Republican members of the House of Representatives’ leadership defend DOMA’s validity, saying they do not speak for Congress, or even for the House.
If the Court accepts this advice, it probably would miss its chance to rule during the current Term on DOMA’s Section 3, which defines marriage for all federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman. It has been challenged by same-sex couples who are legally married, as they seek the federal benefits at issue. There is not time, in the remaining months of the Term (unless the Court would really rush things), for review of another DOMA case, even though others are pending.
The Court on December 7 agreed to review the constitutionality of Section 3 in the case of United States v. Windsor (docket 12-307). At the same time, however, it added questions about its authority to do so and then invited Professor Jackson to argue two points: One, whether the Obama administration can appeal a case that it won in a lower court (it believes DOMA is unconstitutional, and the lower court ruled that way). And, two, whether the House’s three GOP leaders could satisfy the Constitution’s Article III requirement that they have a legal right to be DOMA’s defenders in court.
In an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, Blanchard pointed out that religious leaders stand behind his right to marriage:
We’re here today to give nonviolence witness and let folks know that even people of faith, most definitely people of faith are going to stand up to and say this is wrong […] We anticipate being denied and upon that denial we are going to sit down and not be moved and not leave as a sign of a method of nonviolent resistance. Because we feel if we do not resist we’re silent accomplices to our own discrimination.