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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Antonin Scalia: An out-of-date Justice

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Antonin Scalia: A Republican first and a Supreme Court Justice last. (Pete Marovich/ZUMAPRESS.com)

In one-on-one conversation, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia could be charming, humerous and a pleasant conversationlist.

During my time in Washington — darkened by a decade-long trip to the “dark side” of politics as a GOP operative and later as Divisional Vice President for Political Programs at The National Association of Realtors — I met Scalia several times, shared a table with him at a dinner, and later interviewed him when I returned to a real job as a newspaperman.

Scalia also had a dark side.  He was a hard-core right wing Republican who let his political leanings color his judgment and lead him to questionable behavior as a Supreme Court Justice.

He too often allowed himself to sit in judgment on cases where he had a clear conflict of interest.  He was urged to recuse himself from cases involving abortion and birth control because his wife, Maureen has a long history of working closely with crisis pregnancy centers as both a “crisis counselor” and as associate director of one in Virginia.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a duck-hunting buddy of Scalia at a time when the court was considering a ruling on the vice president’s “stonewalling” case, one of many blatant examples of abuse of power by Cheney.  Scalia did not recuse himself.

Scalia’s hunting trips were often set up by lawyers involved in cases before the Supreme Court.  It was an active part of his social life.

In a high-visibility case involves quota systems that help minority students to get into college. In Fisher vs. University of Texas, Scalia said:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.

One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas,” he said. “They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.

The comment brought crises of “racism” from some because of the suggestion that Scalia might think that black students are inferior.

In his often dissenting opinions, Scalia was usually acerbic and even more often beholden to his right-wing background.

Scalia’s dissents accused other justices of “interpretive jiggery-pokery” and “pure applesauce.” He suggested those who need more information should “ask the nearest hippie.”

Scalia wasalso  a hypocrite.  In his dissension on a case trying to gut the Affordable Care Act, he said “the Supreme Court favors some laws over others and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assists its favorites.”

This was the same Antonin Scalia who helped support the majority of the court in Bush vs. Gore, which declared George W. Bush winner of the 2000 Presidential election before all the votes were counted.

Scalia was the longest serving current member of the Supreme Court, appointed when former actor Ronald Regan was President.

Like the old man who appointed him, Scalia was a dinosaure from another age that needs to be long forgotten.

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4 thoughts on “Antonin Scalia: An out-of-date Justice”

  1. I’m don’t celebrate Tony’s passing from the planet, but I am celebrating his retirement from politics, however forced it was. I would have been fine with his simply retiring w/o expiring.

    There are a lot of ramifications to this, and rather few are conservative-friendly.

    • It will break the death-lock Opus Dei and the Federalist Society have had on the supreme court for the last 30 years.
    • The Republican party’s fundie-branch ownership of the SC is over. It doesn’t really matter who replaces Scalia. It won’t be Scalia.
    • The spittle-flecked branch of the R-Team’s newly-hatched concept that no SC nomination that really matters should ever be made by a black president is in full display. They have never accepted his legitimacy, even though he was unambiguously elected twice. That is unlike the previous owner of the white house, who, if you remember, was “appointed” with Tony at the helm of the appointment committee.
    • Right-wing minds are exploding all over the south and neo-south (AZ, UT, NE,ID, KS). Now the guy from Kenya gets to appoint his man to the court and change it for a long time. They have already vowed not only to defeat any candidate, but to not consider one at all. That is in Hail-Mary territory constitutionally, and will serve to drive home the point that the R-team is not in Washington to govern, but rather destroy, all three branches of the government. That sells in bagger circles, but not so much in other less radical branches of the electorate. It is getting increasingly difficult to complain about how government is broken, when it is crystal-clear that you are the one doing the breaking.
    • On a practical level, the SC won’t be able to veto lower court decisions on abortion, climate change, redistricting, voter suppression, civil liberties, etc. The whole world just changed for the RW. Stalling won’t change that. Voting down a candidate won’t either, as the same 4-4 tie will be in place. Mitch is going all-in on keeping the Senate and getting the WH. Both are rather long-shots at this point. Obama will likely nominate a Latino, black or Asian, which will once again expose the quintessential racism of the RW and point out to non-white voters just what is at stake..

    Reince’s long nightmare is not stopping anytime soon. The debate over the weekend was closer to a riot than a debate. Trump even copped to Dubya “not keeping our country safe” and starting a war with exactly no provocation. That is a bit of reality I sure didn’t expect to hear from the leading R-Team candidate for president. Now Scalia had the bad manners to die in the middle of the campaign.The Republican party is coming apart in extraordinarily lurid fashion. Tony being dead is not going to oil any waters.

    I will miss Tony’s gift for snark. Few were better. How can you argue with a guy that once derided the majority opinion of the most dignified SCOTUS as “Argle-Bargle” in a dissent? That is prime stuff!

    I am in heaven. I didn’t think the POTUS race could get any more entertaining, but it just did, as Cheney would say, “Big-Time”.

    The pendulum is swinging, and fast. The radical RW will not go peacefully. The beast is wounded, writhing, and very dangerous. The bird-sanctuary Bundy-thon was just a hint of what is coming.

    Joe

    • “How can you argue with a guy that once derided the majority opinion of the most dignified SCOTUS as “Argle-Bargle” in a dissent? That is prime stuff!”

      It’s hypocritical. When Justice Scalia was in the majority, his words were deserving of the greatest dignity (according to himself). Deriding his fellow justices while demanding respect in return is the act of a psychopath, not a jurist.

      ” It is our task … to give fair and reasonable meaning to the text of the United States Code, adopted by various Congresses at various times. ”

      (Justice A. Scalia, Pennsylvania v. Union Gas Co., 1989, concurring)

      Is that “argle-bargle” just because you disagree with it? I think not.

      Jon

  2. Conspiracy kooks are screaming foul play. Stories of pillows, poisons and such.

    I hear tell he was with a high priced hooker and had a massive coronary while having sex.

    It’s a conspiracy I tell you.

    Good riddance!

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