In a recent lecture and book-reading at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative D.C. think tank, the notoriously controversial Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rattled off a list of hot-button issues that he considers no-brainers, tipping his hand about how he’s likely to vote on any of the LGBT-related cases that are poised to be reviewed by the high court:
“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”
For the record, I haven’t suddenly started entertaining pie-in-the-sky hallucinations about Scalia casting a pro-equality vote. I just think it’s more than a little imprudent to be making specific comments about an issue that’s almost certain to go before the Supreme Court in the upcoming term. And “homosexual sodomy?” Come on, Tony, show some respect in the terminology you use. You’re supposed to be an allegedly impartial arbiter of the law, not a hellfire-and-brimstone fundamentalist preacher.
Scalia also referred to himself as a “textualist” in matters of constitutional interpretation, meaning that he casts his 21st-century gaze (okay, 20th-century gaze…) back to the 1780s in order to somehow psychically commune with and ascertain the intentions of a disparate group of Enlightenment-era men, most of whom couldn’t conceive of things like freedom and enfranchisement for African Americans, child labor laws, or women’s suffrage, let alone, I dunno, the Internet.
At age 76, Justice Scalia isn’t going to be around forever, but a President Mitt Romney would ensure that Scalia’s head-in-the-sand judicial philosophy lives on long after the anti-gay justice leaves the bench. As Bill Keller pointed out in the New York Times earlier this year, Romney “is committed to filling any Supreme Court vacancies with Scalias.”
Just one more reason that I, Wayne, and many others believe the upcoming election to be the most important one for LGBT rights in our lifetimes.