The claim that Religion should trump Non-Religion is a claim that the religious will often make, however what makes this specific instance an item of concern is not just what was being said, but rather who said it.
Antonin Scalia is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States who was appointed Ronald Reagan in 1986. He is also a devout Catholic, so when he asserts the the Constitution Permits the Court To ‘Favor Religion Over Non-Religion’, you know that he is not thinking about Islam or Scientology.
The context here is that he lectured students on the Commerce Clause during a morning class at the Colorado Christian University campus, so in essence he was preaching to the choir, and as reported by the Washington Times, he said ….
“I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion,”
I suspect this is not news to those that keep tabs on such things, and we have always known that he believed this, but to come right out with it and say it so plainly is new.
OK, so he is permitting his religious beliefs to skew rational thinking, I guess I understand that and while I might not agree with it, I still do grasp where he is coming from. It is all a symptom of a deeper problem here with his entire approach to constitutional law.
What is of considerably more concern is when he states stuff like this …
“The biggest danger lies with judges who interpret the Constitution as a malleable document that changes with the times”
Now there rests a huge issue, because this is a guy who clearly does not think that a constitution should be a living document, but rather is a set of instructions that are hammered in stone. For example, since the 14th amendment was passed in 1868, then according to his legal philosophy it needs to be held to the thinking that prevailed in 1868, so when in 1954 the 14th amendment was the foundation for the idea that segregated schools were unconstitutional, then clearly that is something that Scalia would have opposed because that was not the intention in 1868 for the 14th amendment.
So why is it like this for him?
Well basically because he does not like thinking, and I’m not making that up, he said exactly that …
“If I had the other view of the Constitution — that it was an empty bottle, which was to be filed by my court, and it was my responsibility to decide … all these massive ethical questions — if they were all my call, I couldn’t sleep at night,” Mr. Scalia said. “And some of my colleagues have said, ‘Oh, we agonize a lot.’ I don’t agonize at all. I look at the text, I look at the history of the text. That’s the answer. It’s not my call.”
Personally I blame religious thinking for this idea that he should pass the buck and take no personal responsibility at all. Belief systems dictate a code, you don’t need to think, but rather just blindly obey. You also need not take any personal responsibility; if you do something wrong, just ask Jesus to forgive you and it’s all sorted. Translate this into the legal sphere and you get folks like Scalia acting like this, absolving themselves of any need to be rational, reasonable or just, and so in his universe if he comes out with a crap decision, well it’s not his fault, it is the fault of those that wrote the constitution and the various amendments.
What this also does is to enable him to rationalise to himself a cover under which he can promote his conservative political convictions.
So is this guy living in the real world?
Probably not, because he also appears to think that he is like Frodo … (yes really) …
“It’s a long, uphill fight to get back to original orthodoxy,” Scalia said. “We have two ‘originalists’ on the Supreme Court. That’s something. But I feel like Frodo [in ‘The Lord of the Rings’] … We’ll get clobbered in the end, but it’s worth it.”