Supreme Court associate justice Antonin Scalia is often the most-quotable justice on the Court, and his recent quotes are classic Scalia.luncheon in Bozeman on Monday to help with the effort to create a chapter of the Federalist Society in Montana, and the outspoken Justice made a few remarks targeted for a wider audience.
Scalia used a familiar quote about the controversy over the “living Constitution,” or the idea that Court rulings should be tailored to changing times.
The Justice and other like-minded jurists like Associate Justice Clarence Thomas are part of the Originalist school of thinking, which holds that decisions should be made based on the original intent of the Founding Fathers.
“It’s not a living document, it’s a dead document,” Scalia said. “Oh, don’t put it that way. It’s an enduring document. It’s a meaningless document if its meaning changes according to whatever the Supreme Court thinks.”
But Scalia sent a zinger toward the people who believe the Court should settle the controversy over legalized same-sex marriage.
“It’s not up to the courts to invent new minorities that get special protections that are not subject to the usual rule that you have to get the majority to agree with it,” Scalia said.
He also said the executive and legislative branches were in the best position to answer questions and resolve privacy issues related to the National Security Agency.
“Of all the three branches, we are the one that knows the least about the nature of the threats to the country, and we have the least ability to find out about it,” Scalia said.
Scalia also joked about his history of blistering dissents.
In early August, Scalia issued a scorcher, even by his standards, about a case involving the California prison system.
Scalia called out Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy and the four progressives Justices for using “a standard ploy, when this Court vastly expands the Power of the Black Robe, to hint at limitations that make it seem not so bad.”
Also, in a July speech in Colorado, Scalia lobbed more forceful comments at an appreciative audience.
In one case, Scalia made an unusual argument to justify that Justices don’t have a role in deciding social issues.
“I accept, for the sake of argument, that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged,” Scalia joked. “Rather, I am questioning the propriety, indeed the sanity, of having a value-laden decision such as that made for the entire society by unelected judges.”
One item Scalia dismissed outright at his Montana appearance was term limits for Supreme Court Justices.
“Who is drooling on the bench?” he answered.
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