WASHINGTON, DC — They always say that if you’re a Supreme Court justice, you’ll be defined by how you rule on your cases.
And when given six major cases involving Constitutional rights, history will judge the late Antonin Scalia harshly.
The jurist, who died February 13 at the age of 79, had been an ardent foe of civil rights ever since he was appointed on September 26, 1986 right on up to his demise.
The first of these six cases that demonstrated his hostility to civil rights was the Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. case in 1991. At that time, Indiana’s statewide ban on nudity was being challenged.
He was one of the five hyper-religious justices who voted to uphold the unjust law. In an opinion on June 21, 1991, he wrote:
“Perhaps the dissenters believe that ‘offense to others’ ought to be the only reason for restricting nudity in public places generally, but there is no basis for thinking that our society has ever shared that Thoreauvian “you-may-do-what-you-like-so-long-as-it-does-not-injure-someone-else” beau ideal, much less for thinking that it was written into the Constitution. The purpose of Indiana’s nudity law would be violated, I think, if 60,000 fully consenting adults crowded into the Hoosier Dome to display their genitals to one another, even if there were not an offended innocent in the crowd. Our society prohibits, and all human societies have prohibited, certain activities not because they harm others but because they are considered, in the traditional phrase, “contra bonos mores,” i.e., immoral. In American society, such prohibitions have included, for example, sadomasochism, cockfighting, bestiality, suicide, drug use, prostitution, and sodomy.”
This is a case that the Supreme Court needs to really review when we get a liberal jurist as Scalia’s replacement, because Indiana’s public indecency law is an unjust law and not just because it violates the US Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment and not just because the Court wrongly interpreted the First Amendment in this case. When Barnes was decided, that case also ended up banning public breastfeeding entirely in the state. Since that case nearly 25 years ago, public opinion has completely turned against the Supreme Court’s decision in this case, and an outright majority of Americans believe that nudity is a right in the US Constitution under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Breastfeeding is now legal in all 50 states, further proving that this Supreme Court decision needs to be urgently revisited.
The second and third strikes against him was when he dissented in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey in 1992 and voted to uphold a similar law 15 years later in Carhart vs. Ashcroft.
He wrongly claimed that there’s no right to abortion in the Constitution, when in fact, the right to abortion is, much like the right to be naked in public, enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment under the Equal Protection Clause. The Equal Protection Clause is a clause that is the broadest in scope in the entire US Constitution and for good reason. Our rights should not be dictated by what one person considers to be moral or immoral.
The fourth strike against Scalia was when he voted to destroy voting rights in 2013 in the Shelby County vs. Holder case. In that case striking down Section IV of the Voting Rights Act, much like in the aforementioned Barnes case, he wrongly interpreted that states had the right to restrict voting rights of certain groups of people, a statement eerily reminiscent to his equally wrongheaded statement claiming states had the right to ban public nudity 22 years earlier.
The fifth and final strike against Scalia was on his final opinion, Obergefell vs. Hodges, on June 26, 2015. In that decision which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, he once again wrote, much like in Shelby County and in Barnes, that states have an authority to pass laws infringing on civil rights – a made-up right that our Constitution clearly says States do not have.
While many people may have paid their respects to Scalia, I am not among them. He has repeatedly favored infringement of civil rights – from public nudity to abortion to voting rights to marriage equality – rights so basic, that his opposition to those rights puts him among the staunchest enemies of the US Constitution to have ever sat on the US Supreme Court.
I hope he’s resting comfortably in Purgatory, because his vile, wicked, evil agenda didn’t send him to Heaven.