13 June, 2008

Justice Scalia is Batshit Insane

The single best reason to vote for Barack Obama this November is that he won't be looking to populate the Supreme Court with Antonin Scalia clones.

McCain, on the other hand, would like nothing better.

Now, 28% of Americans are probably delusional enough to think more Scalias on the Supreme Court would be just nifty. They're too far gone to convince otherwise. But for anyone sitting on the fence, torn between the pastures of progress Obama represents and the wasteland of Bush-era bullshit McCain represents, I hope the idea of more Scalias infesting the Supreme Court is enough to send you screaming for the Democratic ticket this fall.

Allow me to take you on a romp through the twisted pathways of the "mind" of Scalia.

This post started as a simple concept. "You know, I haven't mined FindLaw lately," I said to myself. "Might as well have a gander and see what legal lunacy I can amuse folks with." And lo! there was material: a column entitled "Does the Constitution Permit Government to Favor Religion over Nonreligion? Justice Scalia Says Yes" by Michael C. Dorf.

Scalia always has the most interesting interpretations of what the Constitution allows. This one is just more batshit insane than most:

Speaking over the past weekend at the annual dinner of an Orthodox Jewish group, Agudath Israel of America, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia claimed that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment should not be construed to forbid government from favoring “religion over nonreligion.” Justice Scalia has made this point before, both on and off the bench, and he may be correct when he says, as he did before Agudath Israel, that such a prohibition “does not . . . represent the American tradition,” but only if one excludes from that tradition the last forty years of Supreme Court jurisprudence.

The proposition that government may not favor religion over nonreligion does, however, represent the current doctrine of the Supreme Court, albeit with a few exceptions. And of course, Justice Scalia acknowledges as much. He offers his view as a challenge to the modern case law—not a characterization of it.

That Antonin - always swimming against the stream of progress, determined to not only return this country to the bad old days when rights weren't so solidly held by blacks, minorities, and other assorted undesirables, but bump us right back to the Middle Ages. Apparently, he thinks we missed out on some good times.

He has an interesting way of reading the Constitution, considering he bills himself as a "textualist." Mr. Dorf couldn't find anything in the text of the Constitution that would support a textualist interpretation that government can favor religion.

At the very least, we should demand strong evidence in the Constitution’s text before accepting the notion that the Establishment Clause only forbids government favoritism of any particular religious sect, but permits government favoritism of monotheism in general. In fact, the text strongly suggests nearly the exact opposite.

The Establishment Clause itself forbids any “law respecting an establishment of religion,” but does not say exactly what counts as an establishment, or as a law respecting one. Still, there is no basis in the text for distinguishing between monotheistic and other religions. The prohibition—whatever its precise scope—applies to “religion” in general.

Two other provisions of the Constitution are especially instructive. The last clause of Article VI provides that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The text does not say that “any monotheist may hold Office” or any such thing, even though the Founding generation was aware of non-monotheistic religions in Asia, not to mention among those native Americans and enslaved Africans who had not been converted to Christianity. To be sure, few if any of the late Eighteenth Century political elite would have imagined that persons of Asian, African, or indigenous descent would hold office, regardless of religion, but the language is striking nonetheless. Even professed atheists and agnostics—also known to the Framers—are eligible for public office, under the plain language of the Religious Tests Clause.

Perhaps even more telling is the language of the Presidential oath set out at the end of Article II, Section 1. It gives the President the option to “swear (or affirm)” his or her intentions to carry out the duties of office. To “affirm” a proposition is the secular equivalent of swearing, and the fact that the document provides this option is a strong clue that the Constitution puts religion and non-religion on an equal footing.

But the fact that the Constitution basically states the precise opposite of Scalia's belief doesn't even make the stupid fucker bat an eyelash. He's apparently reading the thing through neocon-colored glasses. We all know what those do to one's reading comprehension skills.

Scalia has a history of making batshit-fucking insane, outrageous and generally noxious rulings and remarks. Just for fun, I took a trot through the Carpetbagger archives. I'm going to have to sum up, because 'splaining would take waaaay too damned long. If anyone ever writes a book on the Madness of Justice Scalia, it's going to run to ten volumes. In short form.

  • He thinks people who're still upset with the nauseating Supreme Court decision that handed Bush the presidency back in 2000 should "get over it." Well, fuck you, too, Antonin.

  • He likes to attend Red Mass, wherein batshit insane Catholic priests try to impose their political preferences on sitting Supreme Court justices. In Scalia's case, they're preaching to the choir.

  • He's spat upon worker's rights by deciding that employees who are victims of wage discrimination have only "180 days to challenge the initial discrimination in court" - meaning that if you found out only yesterday that your boss has been underpaying you for the past year, you're shit out of luck. That's Antonin, showing his love.

  • Jack Bauer is his role model and inspiration. I'm not shitting you. And he's not afraid to embarrass the crap out of America by proclaiming this in front of senior judges from Europe and North America. As Carpetbagger observed, "Remember, in some legal circles, Scalia is considered one of the giants in conservative intellectual thought."

  • He's all for limiting abortion rights. He voted to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, which is just one among a long list of erosions to Roe vs. Wade. Red Mass must have been screaming with joy.

  • He dissented from the majority opinion that said the Clean Air Act gives the EPA authority to regulate emissions from cars. Apparently, he likes dirty air just as much as he likes torture, unwillingly pregnant women, and racial segregation.

  • He again dissented from the majority opinion in Hamden, because in his world, a "textualist" reading of the Constitution returns the result that the President should get everything his little heart desires, including the ability to make up his own kangaroo courts for "enemy combatants" and decide when the Geneva Conventions can be used like so much Charmin.

  • And speaking of Charmin, Scalia's ensured that protections for whistleblowers don't even achieve the strength of your cheapest off-brand two-ply. Apparently, it's wrong for people to tattle on the government, corporations, or any other large enterprise that would of course never, ever, trample the rights and dignity of human beings into a bloody pulp underfoot, and then piss upon the remains. Who needs protection?

  • And then there's this gem, which just has to be read to be believed.

    • I could have gone on. And on and on and on and on. But I stopped with a two-year period, because I think you've got enough evidence to base an opinion on by now. The pattern's exquisitely clear: if a Supreme Court decision upheld the Constitution and protected the rights of ordinary people, Scalia could be counted on to be in the dissent. If a decision shat all over rights and freedoms and then used the Constitution to wipe up, Scalia could be found scrubbing his ass happily in the majority. He's a noxious son-of-a-bitch. And did I mention he's batshit insane?

      And did I mention McCain's big dream is to appoint more justices exactly like him?

      Our stalwart progressive justices are getting too aged to make it through another four years. We can't afford to elect a doddering old corporate leg-humper who's going to ensure that our Supreme Court ends up solidly neo-theo-con. If you want to end up living under an American fundamentalist theocracy, fine, pull McCain's lever. If not, I don't care what you think of Obama: he's still the only reasonable alternative.

      Just remember that the Justices who end up on the bench in the next four years will be there for bloody decades. America can't survive a rabid bunch of Scalia clones for anywhere near that length of time.


      John Pieret said...

      My favorite part of his defense of Bush's detainee policy is that he says our Constitution doesn't apply to the soverign territory of Cuba. Well, then, if it really is Cuba's soverign territory, shouldn't the Cuban courts have jurisdiction? After all, you don't get to impose your own laws simply because you rent a place. But if Americans can ignore Cuban law in Gitmo, how are we not imposing American law there, along with everything that goes along with it ... like pesky constitutions?

      Paul Sunstone said...

      You can impeach a Supreme, can't you? Not an easy thing to do, but maybe it would be necessary in this case.

      Chaos Lee said...

      Scalia is the kind of shitbag who would punch a kid in the face for accidentally spitting on his Mercedes Benz. How can anyone who professes to be a Christian, you know, that religion where apparently some bastard god will forgive transgressions of any kind, validate torturing someone? Oh wait, you assume anyone who isn't an American, a Christian (Roman Catholic) and white isn't a real human. So, when does he actually replace his justice robes with white fucking sheets?