MY FEELINGS EXACTLY!
NOTE: You, like me, have probably seen all the tributes to the late Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in just about every media outlet in existence when they haven’t been drowned out by Republicans attempting to make President Obama a one term President again. Or something. (I’m not certain just exactly what they are trying to do. Maybe it’s just revenge against us for electing a Black Man as President. Twice.) I’ve hesitated to toss my opinions into the ring, basically out of respect – something Conservatives, Tea Baggers and Republican Presidential candidates appear to lack – for someone who for thirty years served his country in one of the most influential positions of power in the entire country. We might think that Presidents or Congress or even lowly Federal Bureaucratic slugs wield the most power in our system of governance, but the Supreme Court’s decision roar through our society and can change the character of the American social contract for generations, if not forever.
But I am not a Scalia fan. Never have been. All the accolades to his legal brilliance, his eloquence evident in his written opinions, dissenting or otherwise, the agility of his sparkling mind, his bed rock devotion to Constitutional heritage, for me, alas, can’t make up for the disastrous opinions he voiced and issued about gay rights, same sex marriage, voting rights, religion, corporate sanctity, and, of course, Citizens United. And in all of his opinions, he slavishly stuck to the conservative meme he was appointed to champion by President Ronald Reagan. He, more than any other Justice, has stayed tried and true to the illiberal forces unleashed upon us three decades ago.
I’m glad I kept my mouth shut (metaphorically speaking) because here’s a piece that I came across that pretty much says it all about how I feel about Antonin Scalia:
Dear Straight People: We're Entitled to Our Feelings on Scalia
From The Advocate
February 14, 2016
When I heard about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death, I didn't feign sadness. My reaction was too inconsiderate to repeat here, but like many people the justice spent his life trying to suppress — namely women and LGBT people — I shed a tear, but it wasn't one of sadness.
Losing Scalia is one step toward moving past our country’s homophobic and sexist past. It means we’re nearer to a world where people like him aren’t keeping down people like me. So I don’t know why it’s impolite to be happy.
The Facebook post that informed me of Scalia’s passing was filled with careful acknowledgements: “Whoa.” “Holy shit. “He spent his life interpreting the Constitution.”
Displeased with a lack of honesty about the man, I chimed in with "Yesyesyes." I was immediately slammed for my response — called "classless" and "piggish," and told I should be "ashamed" of myself. That's funny — those words are strikingly similar to things Scalia has written about me, my partner, and every LGBT person in the country.
You see, it's not just that the justice voted against LGBT rights in every relevant case brought to the Supreme Court — he did, save for the case involving Proposition 8, in which he voted to throw out the antigay measure thanks to a technicality — Scalia always went further, insulting LGBT people and telling us we're worthy of the nation's derision.
In Scalia's dissent in Romer v. Evans — the 1996 decision overturning Colorado’s Amendment 2, which would have made it illegal to implement anti-discrimination protections for gays and lesbians throughout the state — he lamented that “the prestige of this institution” had been used to put discrimination against LGBT people on the same plane as racial or religious bias. “This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that ‘animosity’ toward homosexuality ... is evil. I vigorously dissent.”
Scalia’s reasoning always began from the starting place that I’m “evil,” based solely on my sexual orientation. Scalia was fundamentally flawed, and he exacted that mistaken judgment on millions of Americans. No person who still considers discrimination justifiable deserves to be hailed as a great thinker. That’s polite gone mad.
Read through Scalia's dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, 2003, the decision invalidating anti-sodomy laws. This isn’t what genius looks like:
"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. The Court views it as ‘discrimination’ which it is the function of our judgments to deter. So imbued is the Court with the law profession’s anti-anti-homosexual culture, that it is seemingly unaware that the attitudes of that culture are not obviously ‘mainstream.’”
When he was on break from robe duty, Scalia took his show on the road, speaking at various universities about the horrors we've brought to the land. At an appearance at Princeton in 2012, Scalia was asked about past comparisons he drew between anti-sodomy laws and those barring murder and sex with animals.
“If we cannot have moral feelings against or objections to homosexuality, can we have it against anything?” Scalia said, then chided the gay student who posed the question by saying, "I'm surprised you weren't persuaded."
After his death, many pundits and writers danced around Scalia's hateful legacy and worked to memorialize him as a brilliant legal mind. That would be accurate if you believed the Constitution was a "good, old dead" document that should not be adapted with society's maturation. He was also genius if you could understand his reasoning that Justice Kennedy's thoughtful and reasonable opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges — the case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide — read like "mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie." Scalia is also a judicial giant if you can get with the belief that African-American students would excel better at "lesser schools."
I clearly am not a recipient of Scalia's fan club e-blast. I'll admit the justice certainly had a florid way with words in a way that, say Donald Trump, does not. Most people just call Trump what he is, though — a bully.
Yes, I feel for Scalia's family and friends, among whom Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg can be counted. But sad that I live in a world without him in it? No. I simply can't find anything nice to say about a man who spent a considerable part of his life trying to diminish my role in society. If that makes me "classless," so be it. I'm not sure why anyone, the justice included, would be surprised I wasn't persuaded.
NEAL BROVERMAN is the executive editor
of The Advocate.
of The Advocate.
Here's what I would like to say to Associate Justice Scalia:
Forgive me if I am being disrespectful, but your much vaunted “legacy” Justice Scalia, in your anti-gay rulings, (Obergefell v. Hodges) your opposition to Roe v. Wade, (Planned Parenthood v. Casey), anti-Miranda rights (Dickerson v. The United States), redefining “speech” (Citizen’s United), upholding religious discrimination (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby), pro gun rights (District of Columbia v. Heller), diminution of the voting rights (Texas NAACP v. Steen), anti-affirmative action (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke) and many others, have actually hurt people. Not the already deceased people who crafted the Constitution you so actively admire and so strictly follow, but actual, real live people living and working right here, right now, in America. Through your majority rulings, your minority dissents, your public speeches and in your writings you exhibit a fundamentally inhumane, rigid approach to the application of the law while you conjure up technical reasonings and loquacious rationales for your decisions with a decided lack of compassion towards and understanding of the real life world that us non-legal scholars must live and work in every day. And, as a result, must suffer real life consequences for the bigotry, racism, xenophobia, intolerance, political chicanery, and diminishment of human rights still extant in our less than perfect Union of The United States of America.
When the Constitution was written, American society was imperfect and the document's definition of slaves as property and treatment of women as inferior to men are two glaring examples of this. And while a great deal has changed since 1789, there are still many imperfections in our social construct today and the correcting of such imperfections is what every Supreme Court Justice should be all about.