Scalia on the Culture Wars

scaliaA great Catholic and American passed today. Many of Antonin Scalia’s opinions were an inspiration to us non-lawyers on how the public debate should be approached.

Scalia’s dissent on the Federal Defense of Marriage Act in June 2015:

… to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions…. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance … is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to “disparage,” ”injure,” “degrade,” ”demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual.

All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it … enemies of the human race.
….
In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one’s political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today’s Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement
over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament. We might have covered ourselves with honor today, by promising all sides of this debate that it was theirs to settle and that we would respect their resolution.We might have let the People decide.

But that the majority will not do. Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.

Scalia’s dissent on a case involving homosexual rights in May 1996:

When the Court takes sides in the culture wars, it tends to be with the knights rather than the villains–and more specifically with the Templars, reflecting the views and values of the lawyer class from which the Court’s Members are drawn. How that class feels about homosexuality will be evident to anyone who wishes to interview job applicants at virtually any of the Nation’s law schools. The interviewer may refuse to offer a job because the applicant is a Republican; because he is an adulterer; because he went to the wrong prep school or belongs to the wrong country club; because he eats snails; because he is a womanizer; because she wears real animal fur; or even because he hates the Chicago Cubs. But if the interviewer should wish not to be an associate or partner of an applicant because he disapproves of the applicant’s homosexuality, then he will have violated the pledge which the Association of American Law Schools requires all its member schools to exact from job interviewers: “assurance of the employer’s willingness” to hire homosexuals.
….
Today’s opinion has no foundation in American constitutional law, and barely pretends to. The people of Colorado have adopted an entirely reasonable provision which does not even disfavor homosexuals in any substantive sense, but merely denies them preferential treatment. Amendment 2 is designed to prevent piecemeal deterioration of the sexual morality favored by a majority of Coloradans, and is not only an appropriate means to that legitimate end, but a means that Americans have employed before. Striking it down is an act, not of judicial judgment, but of political will. I dissent.

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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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2 Responses to Scalia on the Culture Wars

  1. Wichi says:

    His dissents that you cite perfectly capture the views of many, ie, that the Left has cleverly maneuvered ALL ” debate” into that category he describes as ” hate your neighbor or come join us”. We are losing( if not already having lost) the ability as a society to engage in CIVIL, reasoned, debate and political discussion and, yes, competition. Against gay marriage? Hater. Against preferential status based on gender/ race/ sexual desires? Hater. Against encroachment of religious rights? Ah, you are shoving your views down my throat. One gets the feeling that Mr. Scalia is far happier today than he was a few days ago…

  2. The ‘right side of history’ crowd
    vs
    “an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history”

    By the time the failed experiment is clear to all, even the supremely well intentioned, we hope to be hanging with Scalia

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