Last edited: November 19, 2004

Judges Have too Much Power in Social Issues Scalia Says, September 29, 2004

By Michael J. Meade, Newscenter, Boston Bureau

Boston, Massachusetts—Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says social issues such as gay marriage and abortion should not be decided by the courts.

Speaking to students at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Scalia said that the American judicial system has bee turned into a quagmire as a result of “abstract moralizing” from the bench.

“What I am questioning is the propriety, indeed the sanity, of having value-laden decisions such as these made for the entire society ... by judges,” Scalia said.

In his speech Scalia did not mention specifically gay marriage but left little doubt to the intent of his remarks.

“I believe in liberal democracy, which is a democracy that worries about the tyranny of the majority, but it is the majority itself that must draw the lines,” he said.

As an example, he cited the women’s suffrage movement, which he said resulted from the will of the people, not a court.

Later, in a question and answer period with students he was asked if he had any gay friends “and if not whether you’d like to be my friend.”

“I probably do have some gay friends,” Scalia replied. “I’ve never pressed the point.”

Scalia said his personal views on social issues have no bearing on his courtroom decisions.

However, his positions on gay rights issues that have come before the high court, show an extreme conservative view.

In the case that overturned sodomy laws Scalia dissented from the majority writing, “The court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.” He took the unusual step of reading his dissent from the bench.

“The court has taken sides in the culture war,” Scalia said.

While the sodomy case was before the court he was the keynote speaker at a meeting of the Urban Family Council in Philadelphia, a group that while not a party in the sodomy case was fighting that city’s ordinance allowing benefits for the partners of gay and lesbian municipal workers.

Last October he ridiculed the court’s majority decision overturning the Texas sodomy law in a speech before an extreme right wing group, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

Legislation is currently before Congress that would remove federal judges from hearing cases involving same-sex marriage.

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