Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Scalia: You're an Idiot. The Punisher: I Know You Are But What Am I?
By JONATHAN EWING, Associated Press Writer Tue Feb 14, 10:25 AM ET (with Edits by THE PUNISHER)
People who believe the Constitution would break if it didn't change with society are "idiots," U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says.
In a speech Monday sponsored by the conservative Federalist Society, Scalia defended his long-held belief in sticking to the plain text of the Constitution "as it was originally written and intended."
"Scalia does have a philosophy, it's called originalism," he said. "That's what prevents him from doing the things he would like to do," he told more than 100 politicians and lawyers from this U.S. island territory. Scalia continued to refer to himself in the third person because that's what all self important people do, usually it's gangsta rappers or professional athletes, but Scalia is trying something new. In addition I've heard that Justice Souter now wants to be called simply J-Sou.
According to his judicial philosophy, Scalia said, there can be no room for personal, political or religious beliefs.
Scalia criticized those who believe in what he called the "living Constitution."
"That's the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break."
"But you would have to be an idiot to believe that," Scalia said. "The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."
“For example”, Scalia continued, “The Second Amendment says ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ And that is all it says. I as a Judge can choose to ignore the plain meaning of the words ‘A well regulated Militia’ and focus on the particular phrase ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed’, therefore changing the meaning of the Amendment to an absolute prohibition on any government regulation of guns. I can also conveniently ignore the original intent and meaning of the men who wrote the constitution because when they wrote ARMS they meant sabers and muskets but I know they also meant UZI and .50 CALIBER MACHINE gun. This however it not me engaging in the creation of a living constitution. And this in no way is me substituting my own personal, political or religious beliefs, like those who believe in a living constitution.”
Proponents of the living constitution want matters to be decided "not by the people, but by the justices of the Supreme Court."
Scalia continued, “I on the other hand, know that when Scalia and his 4 Republican Appointed Justices decided in Bush v. Gore to put George W. Bush in the White House, we were acting in the best interests of the Republic and not for any personal political reasons. I know that some of my detractors claim that we violated the will of the people, because Gore did in fact get more votes than Bush, and that we violated the States Rights, because we over-ruled the Supreme Court of Florida, but I can unequivocally state that Scalia followed strict constructionist principles when Scalia decided that case. Even when we decided to limit the precedential effect of the case to the specific facts of Bush v. Gore, meaning that no other American could ever use Bush v. Gore as precedent, we were not acting in any way other than strict constructionists. Scalia’s personal biases had nothing to do with that case. Nothing. As I said I am not like those who believe in a living constitution, I believe the people should make the decisions, not Judges.”
"They are not looking for legal flexibility, they are looking for rigidity, whether it's the right to abortion or the right to homosexual activity, they want that right to be embedded from coast to coast and to be unchangeable," Scalia said and added, "and I'm going to ignore the contradictions of that last sentence, because I know that strict constructionism can be flexible, just not living."
Scalia added, “For example, the Constitution is silent on the issue of Abortion and Homosexual Activity. But if you draw upon the Bible, it’s easy to outlaw both of these because God prohibited them both, therefore as a Christian Nation, we can outlaw abortion and homosexual activity. I will conveniently ignore the 14th Amendment when I decide these cases, because God is a higher power than Congress and the 2/3 of the states that ratified the 14th Amendment. But again, this is in no way me interjecting my personal, political or religious beliefs into a purely legal decision. And if you think it is, you are an idiot.”
Scalia continued, “Another good example would be the 4th Amendment. It says that warrants shall not issue, but upon probable cause. However, I as a strict constructionist, know that when the framers wrote the Constitution, they did not anticipate the War on Terror and therefore when President George W. Bush authorized warrentless surveillance of American Citizens in direct violation of the 4th Amendment and the 1978 FISA Law, the framers would have agreed that this falls under the President’s War Powers and therefore is not violating the 4th Amendment or the 1978 FISA Law. You see how much fun it is to be a strict constructionist? You don’t have to be an idiot like those who believe in a living constitution because you can get the result you want, just by hanging more importance on one part of the Constitution than another. In this case the War Powers take precedence over the 4th Amendment and the Intent of Congress. But again, this is in no way me substituting my personal beliefs instead of the law as it was actually written.”
Scalia continued, “Another Good Example, The Eighth Amendment says ‘Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.’ But this does not mean that the death penalty is outlawed by the constitution. I as a smarty pants lawyer am able to craftily say that cruel and unusual punishment does not include death. Now I know that some of you would say that if death doesn’t qualify as cruel and unusual punishment, then nothing will. But I on the other hand can say that cruel and unusual might be something just short of death, but that the actual death ends the cruel and unusual part, therefore, it doesn’t violate the Eight Amendment and I am allowed to continue to call myself a strict constructionist. In fact I’m such an opponent of the living constitution that I can actually say with a straight face that “Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached” and allow an innocent person to be put to death and still argue this is not cruel or unusual. You see again how much fun it is to be a conservative like me?"
Scalia was invited to Puerto Rico by the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. The organization was founded in 1982 as a debating society by students who believed professors at the top law schools were too educated, and because those professors made things hard to understand for those poor conservative students, they all got together to come up with simplistic arguments like strict constructionism to get the results they want in legal arguments. Conservatives, Morons and Libertarians mainly make up the 35,000 members.