U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told an audience at Princeton University on Monday that comparing same sex coupling to bestiality and murder is politically “effective.” According to the Associated Press (AP), Scalia was explaining to a question by a gay student, Duncan Hosie, who asked the conservative judge why he considers it necessary to draw parallels between laws banning LGBT sex and laws banning bestiality and murder.
“I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective,” Scalia replied, adding that he believes legislative bodies are within their purview to ban acts that they believe are immoral.
The Reagan-appointed justice has been touring the country promoting his new book, Reading Law. He said that he was not equating homosexual sex with murder, but rather saying that laws against them serve the same purpose, as moral safeguards on society.
“It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,’” said Scalia. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
Hosie’s question came three days after the Supreme Court announced that it will be hearing two high-profile cases that take on the issue of same sex marriage, including one case involving the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was enacted in 1996, and another challenging California’s Proposition 8 voter referendum, which made same sex marriage illegal in the state.
Hosie said he wasn’t persuaded by Scalia’s answer, or Scalia’s previous jurisprudence around the topic of homosexuality. Scalia’s writings, he said, “dehumanize” LGBT people.
Scalia also cracked wise about people who call the U.S. Constitution a “living document.”
“It isn’t a living document,” he said. “It’s dead, dead, dead, dead.” People who believe that the Constitution is a living, adaptable instrument are missing the mark, he insisted.
“My Constitution is a very flexible one,” he said. However, “There’s nothing in there about abortion. It’s up to the citizens. The same with the death penalty.”
Seventh Circuit judge and University of Chicago lecturer Richard A. Posner criticized Reading Law in The New Republic, saying Scalia’s judicial philosophy was “incoherent” and ideologically blinkered.
Posner also pointed out that Scalia’s book and his judicial rulings cite cases that never actually established the things that Scalia and his co-author Bryan A. Garner claim they established. He called their arguments “inconsistent” and “disingenuous” and fretted that most readers will accept the arguments put forth in Reading Law at face value.
“How many readers of Scalia and Garner’s massive tome,” he wondered, “will do what I have done — read the opinions cited in their footnotes and discover that in discussing the opinions they give distorted impressions of how judges actually interpret legal texts?”
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases in March of 2013.
[image of Justice Scalia via screen grab]