Derides High Court’s Gay Sex Ruling
/ PlanetOut.com Network, October 24, 2003
By Eric Johnston
Court Justice Antonin Scalia ridiculed his court’s recent ruling which
struck down anti-gay state sodomy statutes during a speech on Thursday.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ridiculed his
court’s recent ruling which struck down anti-gay state sodomy statutes
during a speech to a conservative group on Thursday, calling it a result of a
“liberal political order” that flies in the face of his strict
interpretation of the Constitution.
Scalia told a gathering of the Intercollegiate Studies
Institute he thinks his fellow justices are twisting the Constitution in ways
the nation’s founding fathers did not intend when they wrote the historic
The ruling, Scalia said, “held to be a constitutional
right what had been a criminal offense at the time of the founding and for
nearly 200 years thereafter.”
Scalia thinks the court should interpret the Constitution
according to how the founders would have ruled on particular issues during
George Washington’s time, according to Jon Davidson, senior counsel for
Lambda Legal, who spoke to the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network from Los Angeles
“(It was) a time when we had slaves, and women were
their husbands’ property and people who were not landowners could not
vote,” said Davidson. “Things have changed, thank goodness.”
“He’s an advocate of strict constructionist theory of
the Constitution, meaning the Constitution only means what it meant in
1787,” said Ken Layton, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign. “And
he decides cases as if it’s 1787. The only problem is it’s a different
country, and it’s left Justice Scalia behind.”
Scalia wrote a bitter dissent of Lawrence
v. Texas, the high
court’s June ruling that struck down a Texas state law banning private,
consensual sex between adults of the same sex. The court’s ruling also
nullified sodomy laws in 12 other states.
In his dissent, Scalia warned the ruling would open the
door to striking down state laws barring gay marriage.
The ruling was more about privacy rights than sex,
according to Cathy Renna, news media director for the Gay & Lesbian
Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “It has seemed to propel a lot of
anti-gay organizations to focus on civil marriage as a huge way of attacking
our community,” said Renna.
“Most of today’s experts on the Constitution think
the document written in Philadelphia in 1787 was simply an early attempt at
the construction of what is (now) called a liberal political order,” Scalia
said in his comments Thursday.
“I think it’s sour grapes that he’s not getting his
way,” said Davidson. “His view of constitutional interpretation is not the
same as the rest of the court.”
Scalia showed contempt for his colleagues on the bench
that is rarely seen from a member of the high court.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe
issued a statement Friday, saying: “By mocking the court’s ruling, Justice
Scalia is showing that his intolerance also makes him unable to respectfully
disagree with his colleagues.”
Added Layton: “It comes as no surprise that Justice
Scalia is outraged about a decision for equality and against
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