Are you there God? It's me, Nino
Supreme Court Justice (and possible future Chief Justice) Antonin "Nino" Scalia apparently believes that the U.S. government rules by divine right. In a recent case on the Texas Legislature's displaying of the Ten Commandments, Scalia said the following:
... when somebody goes by that monument, I don't think they're studying each one of the commandments. It's a symbol of the fact that government comes — derives its authority from God. And that is, it seems to me, an appropriate symbol to be on State grounds.
This bothers even Don Herzog at Left2Right, himself a conservative, apparently:
There's a lot to say about what's right and wrong with the Court's current establishment clause jurisprudence, on which everything hangs on whether the government is endorsing religion. But there's no room in constitutional law for Justice Scalia's claim that political authority descends from God. He may believe it off the bench, and you may believe it too if you like. But our constitution and our constitutional law do not proceed on those terms.
It would be good if all of us — left and right, secular and religious — could agree that Justice Scalia, whose work on and off the bench I much admire, pulled a blooper.
Brad DeLong's response is much more hostile:
Nino Scalia's views on this are profoundly--there is no other word for it--UnAmerican. Here in the United States, we are all children of Thomas Jefferson. God does not give us rulers. Instead, God gives us rights: to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We then institute governments to secure these rights, and they derive their just powers from our consent, not from God's decree. Moreover, it is not the YHWH of Revealed Religion but instead "Nature's God" and Nature itself that are the source of these rights.
In his speech "God's Justice and Ours," Scalia says that God hates not just crime and open revolt but peaceful campaigns of civil disobedience which are, in Scalia's view, based on the false assumption that "what the individual citizen considers an unjust law... need not be obeyed."
Thus from Scalia's point of view for Blacks to sit at an all-White lunch counter when the law decrees they shall not--that is not just a crime but a sin. And the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday--a celebration of his civil disobedience campaigns--is blasphemous: hateful to God, because it teaches people that there are circumstances in which they should disobey those whom God has commanded them to obey.
...does such a guy have any business being a Justice of the Supreme Court of a free country? No.
But none of this is particularly surprising coming from Scalia, whose defining characteristic is his tendency towards fascistic reasoning. In 2002 he said:
The reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should not be resignation to it, but the resolution to combat it as effectively as possible.
Another doozy from Nino:
Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached.
And then there was a speech he gave in 2003:
UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Tuesday night that government has room to scale back individual rights during wartime without violating the Constitution.
"The Constitution just sets minimums," Scalia said at John Carroll University. "Most of the rights that you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires."
He said that in wartime or other situations where lawbreaking is rampant, government sometimes has to scale back individual rights of suspects.
Scalia said the constitutional rights are minimums adding that society has extended protections for individuals that go far beyond that.
He said that in wartime, one can expect "the protections will be ratcheted right down to the constitutional minimum. I won't let it go beyond the constitutional minimum."
(Well, at least he's letting us keep the "constitutional minimum." What a nice guy! Nino's really just a big lovable teddy bear when you get to know him.)
In Lawrence v. Texas, he claimed that "a person has no constitutional right to engage in sexual intercourse, at least outside of marriage" and that there and that there is "no general right of privacy" that American citizens can expect.
The man despises democracy and civil rights. That he is on the Supreme Court at all is shameful enough; that he is considered by some to be an "intellectual" whose prejudices are worth taking seriously is absurd.