And speaking of the Constitution, news sources today report a mild-to-middling uproar over Justice Antonin Scalia's acceptance of Tea Party House Caucus founder Michele Bachmann's invitation to address House members on that very document.
From the LA Times:
The meeting "suggests an alliance between the conservative members of the court and the conservative members of Congress," said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, who said Scalia had shown "exceedingly poor judgment."That same paper, however, carries an editorial saying, "Let Scalia speak."
Antonin Scalia has sat on the Supreme Court for 24 years. Oyez.org remembers his ascension this way,
In 1986, President Reagan promoted William H. Rehnquist to the position of chief justice in the wake of the retirement of Warren Burger. To fill the vacancy created by Rehnquist's promotion, Reagan nominated Scalia to the Supreme Court. The political focus on Rehnquist's nomination drew all the attention away from Scalia. Thus, even though Scalia had a much more conservative record than Rehnquist, ironically Scalia's nomination passed unanimously and virtually uncriticized. Scalia took the oaths of office, becoming the youngest justice on the Court. His staunch conservatism and obvious intellect excited many conservative advocates who saw much promise in his confirmation.Answers.com presents Justice Scalia's judicial philosophy concisely in this way:
Justice Antonin Scalia is a conservative. He is one of two justices on the court (the other being Clarence Thomas) who believe in the philosophy of constitutional originalism, that the Constitution should be interpreted solely in terms of the framers' original intent.Amidst all the flaps and fanfares associated with the swearing in of a new Congress, however, came a glancing reference in the Washington Post to Justice Scalia's insistence that the Constitution (the same document about which he's been invited to instruct House members) does not protect equal rights for women, let alone gay men and lesbians.
The article referred to an interview Justice Scalia had given to California Lawyer. Here's the relevant question and answer.
In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don't think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we've gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?
Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. ... But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that's fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. Nobody ever thought that that's what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don't need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don't like the death penalty anymore, that's fine. You want a right to abortion? There's nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn't mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it's a good idea and pass a law. That's what democracy is all about. It's not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.This all took me back to 1996, when Justice Scalia was the only justice to dissent in United States vs. Virginia, the case that allowed women to attend Virginia Military Institute. In his dissent, Scalia wrote:
...the tradition of having government funded military schools for men is as well rooted in the traditions of this country as the tradition of sending only men into military combat. The people may decide to change the one tradition, like the other, through democratic processes; but the assertion that either tradition has been unconstitutional through the centuries is not law, but politics smuggled into law.Hmmmmm. So do I really not have Constitutionally guaranteed equal rights? Does Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia truly believe that my employer can cite the Constitution as reason to pay me less than my male colleagues for equal work?
To me, it seems that he does. But, please, your thoughts . . .