Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Just in from the Old News Dept: Justice Scalia says No Constitutional Rights for Women & Gays

Official portrait of Supreme Court Justice Ant...
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Everything old is news again.

The interwebs are again abuzz with the rehashing of a story that first made news back in September, when ultraconservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said in an interview, "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?"

Scalia went on to say that if congress wants to protect the rights of specific groups of people, it should pass laws to do so. I remember reading about this back in September, in an article on the San Francisco Chronicle's SFGate site, when Scalia said in a speech to a group of law students that the 14th amendment does not apply to homosexuals. Word of the homophobic slam spread like wildfire through the queer blogosphere, outraging the likes of Grande Dame Pam Spaulding and Joe "What, another award?" Jervis and others.

In November, Scalia addressed another group of law students at the University of Richmond and reiterated his position on the 14th Amendment saying:

“The due process clause has been distorted so it’s no longer a guarantee of process but a guarantee of liberty,” Scalia expounded. “But some of the liberties the Supreme Court has found to be protected by that word - liberty - nobody thought constituted a liberty when the 14th Amendment was adopted. Homosexual sodomy? It was criminal in all the states. Abortion? It was criminal in all the states.” “The way to change the Constitution is through amendments approved by the people, not by judges altering the meaning of its words,” he added.
Right on cue, the queer universe cam to a halt and was appropriately appalled. 

Justice Scalia is well known for his strict reading of the Constitution and isn't sympathetic to those who try to find ways of applying it to modern life. This is not news. It was not news when Ronald Reagan appointed him in 25 years ago. His rulings have reflected his personal bias ever since and should surprise no one. Never mind that the Supreme Court found that anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional (Lawrence vs. Texas, in which Scalia voted with the minority) and that women have the right to choose whether or not they carry a pregnancy to term (Roe vs. Wade). Scalia's views are increasingly out of step with mainstream America on these and many other Culture War topics, but he's made is views very clear.

Can we stop the mock outrage already?

I'm not saying we shouldn't discuss Scalia or his views, we should. We should be talking about how bigots don't belong on the Supreme Court. It is very possible that president Obama may have to replace another justice during his term, especially if he's re-elected. Another angle on Scalia might be how his views will effect the cases against Prop 8, DOMA and the still-pending DADT challenge being fought by the Log Cabin Republicans. These are valid discussions, especially when we've run out the clock on any new legislative victories, thanks to foot-dragging by our so-called allies on Capital Hill and the apologists at HRC.

Someone once said, "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance". I get it. Scalia bad. We should be paying attention to the homophobes who got appointed to the court when we weren't paying attention. But that ship sailed 25 years ago. Too little, too late.

I know we're in a slow news cycle, but can we please stop acting as if this old news is new news? And can we please, please, PLEASE stop treating bloggers like sacred prophets, especially when they go overboard with their over reactions? I'm just a guy with a laptop and an opinion and so are they. Feel free to disagree and call me out if you think I'm wrong and do the same to the rest of them as well.

There is more to blogging than just pointing out how bad everything sucks. How about bringing a new perspective to an old discussion or asking different questions?
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