Once upon a time, Supreme Court justices were seen but not heard. The only time they spoke in public was to ask a question during oral arguments. Otherwise, they kept their counsel and spoke through written opinions or dissents.
Sadly, that’s no longer the case. Today, a few of them are out in public spouting off all the time, like wannabe TV pundits, occasionally even commenting on matters that might soon come before the court. The worst offender is Justice Antonin Scalia, as he proved once again this week.
At an October book-signing, as reported by Nina Strochlic of The Daily Beast, Scalia cavalierly dismissed three Supreme Court-weight issues: “The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”
Not even the pope, apparently, hates homosexuality as much as Scalia. In Lawrence v. Texas, he not only dissented from the court’s decision to strike down the state’s anti-sodomy statute, he accused the court of allowing for anything-goes. From now on, argued Scalia, “state laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality and obscenity” are all “called into question.”
Now, here’s the problem. It’s OK for someone to hold those views, no matter how warped. It’s scary that someone so homophobic, and so close-minded, should sit on the Supreme Court. But it’s totally wrong for anyone with those views to be in a position to rule on any issue related to gay rights.
As of last week, there are now two such cases before the court, both dealing with marriage equality. Scalia has already shown he does not have an open mind on this issue. He should do the right thing and voluntarily recuse himself from the same-sex marriage case. Or Chief Justice John Roberts should publicly demand that he do so.
Press is host of the nationally syndicated “Bill Press Show.”