Quantcast
Connect with us

In rare public debate, Justice Scalia admits to not caring about intentions behind laws

Published

on

One of the most conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court and one of the most liberal ones sparred Friday over capital punishment, the direct election of senators and various other constitutional questions during a rare public debate that highlighted their philosophical differences.

Antonin Scalia, 74, the longest-serving current justice, appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, and Stephen Breyer, 72, appointed by Democrat Bill Clinton, shared the stage in front of a crowd of thousands during a West Texas event organized by Texas Tech University Law School.

ADVERTISEMENT

They particularly clashed on the question of capital punishment.

Scalia argued that while there’s room for debate about whether the death penalty is a “good idea or a bad idea,” it is not cruel and unusual punishment.

“There’s not an ounceworth of room for debate as to whether it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment because, at the time the Eighth Amendment was adopted — the cruel and unusual punishments clause — it was the only punishment for a felony. It was the definition of a felony. It’s why we have Western movies because horse thieving was a felony.”

Breyer said 200 years ago, people thought flogging at a whipping post was not cruel and unusual.

“And indeed there were whipping posts where people were flogged virtually to death up until the middle of the 19th century,” he said. “If we had a case like that today I’d like to see how you’d vote.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The two bandied about other issues, including Brown vs. The Board of Education, the landmark high court decision in the 1950s that outlawed school segregation case, cable television rulings, and how they view cases that come before them.

Later, Scalia returned to the issue of flogging, saying it’s “stupid” but “not unconstitutional, which is stupid. There’s a lot of stuff that stupid that’s not constitutional.”

Scalia said he has no interest in what legislators intended when making a particular law. Breyer countered, saying judges need to go back and find out the purpose legislators had when crafting a bill.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I don’t at all look to what I think the legislature thought,” Scalia said. “I frankly don’t care what the legislature thought.”

Breyer responded quickly, saying, “That’s the problem,” which brought thunderous laughter from the crowd.

ADVERTISEMENT

“You’ve got to go back to the purpose of the legislation, find out what’s there,” Breyer said. “That’s the democratic way, cause you can then hold that legislature responsible, rather than us, who you can’t control.”

At the end, the two were asked what they would change about the Constitution.

“Not much,” Breyer said. “It’s a miracle and we see that through” our work.

ADVERTISEMENT

Scalia called the writing of the Constitution “providential,” and the birth of political science.

“There’s very little that I would change,” he said. “I would change it back to what they wrote, in some respects. The 17th Amendment has changed things enormously.”

That amendment allowed for U.S. Senators to be elected by the people, rather than by individual state legislatures.

“We changed that in a burst of progressivism in 1913, and you can trace the decline of so-called states’ rights throughout the rest of the 20th century. So, don’t mess with the Constitution.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Breyer countered that change has sometimes been needed.

“There have been lots of ups and downs in the enforcement of this Constitution, and one of the things that’s been quite ugly — didn’t save us from the Civil War — is that there is a system of changing the Constitution through amendment. It’s possible to do but not too easy.”

Mochila insert follows

Powered by Mochila

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Trump campaign’s ‘stunningly incompetent’ strategy exposed by former federal prosecutor

Published

on

The Trump campaign is still racking up legal losses in the courts, and even some wealthy GOP donors are reportedly pushing the party to pull the plug on Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Attorney Ken White, a former federal prosecutor, has taken a look at some of the Trump campaign's latest legal filings and has found them to be equal parts "shockingly ridiculous" and "stunningly incompetent."

Continue Reading

2020 Election

WATCH: Trump shamed Thanksgiving turkey for refusing to concede White House pardon contest

Published

on

It was just two years ago that President Donald Trump mocked a Thanksgiving turkey for refusing to concede the election for a White House pardon. As Thanksgiving 2020 approaches, Trump has officially become that turkey.

"This was a fair election... unfortunately, Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount," Trump announced about the battle between Carrots and Peas.

"We're still fighting with Carrots," he joked in a speech. "And I will tell you, we've come to a conclusion: Carrots, I'm sorry to tell you, the results did not change. Too bad for Carrots."

It's unclear if Carrots still maintains the election was rigged, as President Trump does about the 2020 election. He joined Peas at Virginia Tech’s “Gobblers Rest” exhibit in Blacksburg, Virginia. There students and veterinarians within Virginia Tech’s Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences care for all turkeys given a pardon.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Security guard interrupts COVID-denier’s speech and quits on the spot: ‘She’s trivializing the Holocaust’

Published

on

A video from Germany is circulating on social media, showing a COVID-denier addressing a rally, only to have her speech interrupted by a security guard who was disgusted by her comparisons of pandemic restrictions to the Holocaust.

“I feel like Sophie Scholl, since I've been active in the resistance, giving speeches, going to protests, distributing flyers," the woman says to the audience, referring to the famous "White Rose" resistance fighter who opposed the Nazis during World War II.

Continue Reading