The most conservative justice in recent memory will be judged rather harshly by history
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away at the age of 79. Some may say it’s time to mourn the man who served on the highest court for 30 years, and not criticize his work, but I have no intention of letting Scalia off the hook that easily while he is still in the spotlight.
I had nothing but contempt for this man of justice while he was alive, I will certainly not change my judgement of him now that he is gone. Mourn the man if you wish, but I will not grieve for a guy that has given so many progressives grief.
Some of the opinions of Antonin Scalia are extreme in scope. He was exceptionally anti-gay and pro-business. I wouldn’t go so far as to call him racist, but his views revealed a lack of understanding when it came to race issues. This was a man responsible in part for George W. Bush’s 2000 election victory and the further corrupting of our political system.
In a way, Scalia was a Tea Party OG. It’s no coincidence that most Republican presidential candidates revere him as a conservative hero, especially Ted Cruz. I would argue they share most of the same opinions.
The Anti-Gay Justice
When it came to gay rights and freedoms, Scalia took his opinions from the bible, not the actual constitution. In Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case challenging a Texas law that criminalized homosexual sex, Scalia wrote in his dissent:
“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. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”
What he was essentially arguing, was that it was perfectly fine to criminalize behavior that someone has a moral objection toward. If homosexual relations were to be criminalized over moral objections, where is the line drawn? After all, some folks see obese people as being immoral. Hell, what about greed?
In his 1996 dissent in the case of Romer v. Evans, a challenge to Colorado’s ban on local jurisdictions outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Scalia compared homosexuals to Polygamists and even murderers:
“Of course it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings, but I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible – murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals – and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct.”
The opinions of Antonin Scalia regarding Homosexuality and same sex marriage is long and fairly painful for a progressive to read. If you wish to read more, Mother Jones created an accurate list well before Scalia’s death.
Racism? What Racism?
In the 2012 case of Shelby County v. Holder, Scalia and the four other conservative justices of the Supreme Court decided to strike down parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It didn’t destroy the act completely, but the damage was done.
Scalia had described key provisions of the Voting Rights Act as an “embedded form of racial preferment.” In other words, black being allowed to vote gave them an advantage? Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s decision an opinion shared by Scalia and the other judges that argued it didn’t reflect the “current conditions” of race discrimination in America. Yes, they actually ruled based on their own belief that racism was a thing of the past.
“Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes. Even the name of it is wonderful, the Voting Rights Act. Who’s going to vote against that?”
Scalia apparently. Soon after the ruling, a number of states, particularly in the South, were allowed to revise their election laws without advanced federal approval. These states soon proceeded with controversial voter identification laws.
Democracy be Damned
In Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court ruled to stop recounting ballots in Florida during the contested election of 2000. The ruling is responsible for George W. Bush getting elected president despite the fact that Al Gore received more votes in Florida.
It was legally fallacious and a politically motivated decision. Five justices led by Scalia essentially putting up a roadblock in front of democracy. We all know too well the consequences of this decision, one which military veterans will never forget. Still, as recently as 2012, Scalia was telling the American people publicly to “get over it.”
As you should all know by now, Scalia was instrumental in the 5-4 majority in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The critical decision opened the spending floodgates for U.S. political campaigns. Since then, money has corrupted the United States like never before. In fact I can’t think of a more corrupting force in modern American history.
It may not seem like it right now with outsiders near or leading the pack in the presidential primaries, but at the state and local level it is being felt nationwide. It is just slightly ludicrous when you see candidates in a Governor’s race in Michigan spend nearly $22 million during a campaign, while corporations and dark money spend nearly $37 million on the same campaign. Makes you wonder who is running the country and why our water is really being poisoned.
“I don’t care who is doing the speech — the more the merrier. People are not stupid. If they don’t like it, they’ll shut it off.”
That’s part of the problem, people have been shutting it off more and more. It’s exactly what conservatives want. To switch people off. Citizens United actually goes hand in hand with the Voting Rights Act, only instead of black people losing their voice, they’ve expanded it to 99% of us.
Scalia will be missed by conservatives to be sure, he brought a great imbalance to the court. But now that he is gone it falls upon history to judge him… And I trust it won’t be kind.