Friday, September 25, 2009

Scalia: Out of the Theocracy Closet

As if we didn't have enough to worry about, now I learn -- sadly to no surprise -- that SCOTUS flack Antonin "Quack-Quack" Scalia has finally come out of the theocracy closet and stated that "whatever the Establishment Clause means, it certainly does not mean that government cannot accommodate religion, and indeed favor religion."

In an exclusive interview published in, of all places, a Brooklyn newspaper called Hamodia: The Daily Newspaper of Torah Jewry, we get a fascinating -- albeit frightening -- look inside the mind of Scalia, and it's not a pretty sight:

When I first joined the Court, I needed to spend a lot of time researching what the original understanding was, since the lawyers would just quote the last Supreme Court case. There are now two for sure, thoroughgoing originalists on the Court, Clarence Thomas and myself. And I think the Court as a whole has become more receptive to originalism. I think - or perhaps I just hope - that American jurisprudence is moving away from an evolving Constitution to an enduring Constitution.
I have been here for a long time now - 23 years. In that time, I think the Court has become more receptive to the needs of religious practice. We have allowed government practices that favor religion, practices to which, in the 60s and 70s, we were quite hostile. Earlier we weren’t hostile. When I was in elementary school in Queens you were able to get out early on Wednesdays for religious instruction. In the early 1950s the ACLU challenged this as violating the Establishment Clause...
A decade later the Court changed its mind and adopted the so-called principle of neutrality - which states that the government cannot favor religion over non-religion. This is not an accurate representation of what Americans believe. The Court itself has contradicted that principle a number of times - including the case approving tax exemptions for houses of worship (Walz v. Tax Commission) and cases approving paid chaplains in state and federal legislatures. More recently we have allowed the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas State Legislature. I think we have been moving back towards what the American Constitution provided.
I am not sure how Orthodox Jews feel about the Establishment Clause, but I assume they do not like driving G-d out of public life. We had a monumental decision last term involving the Establishment Clause, which has been the principal instrument to that end. During the Kennedy administration, Congress passed a bill that gave federal aid to public and private schools. It was challenged by the ACLU, and the Supreme Court ultimately disallowed the aid to private schools. The case that allowed that suit to proceed, Flast v. Cohen, reversed a long-standing principle of law that there was no standing to challenge a law simply because you are a taxpayer. Flast v. Cohen says a taxpayer who is not personally affected has standing to challenge an alleged violation of the Establishment Clause. Last term we limited that holding to suits challenging congressional action. To challenge executive action on Establishment Clause grounds you must be personally affected.
Did you get that bit about "driving g-d [sic] out of public life"? I don't know about your town, but where I live you pretty much can't throw a rock without striking a church. You can't get much more public than that, and I don't see any of them having to tear down their steeples so the "public" won't be offended by looking at them.

There's a lot more to this wide-ranging interview, including near the bottom of the article this little gem: "My court has a series of opinions that say that the Constitution requires neutrality on the part of the government, not just between denominations, not just between Protestants, Jews and Catholics, but neutrality between religion and non-religion. I do not believe that. That is not the American tradition."

Cut through to the core and this means that all of us godless secular humanists out here in the Reality-Based Community are going to be fucked big time if the theocrats, aided and abetted by the likes of Scalia and his ilk, ever get their Dominionist way.


Anonymous said...

You've gotta be f-ing kidding me... The Founding Fathers were religion-neutral at the most. If they read their private works, Jefferson and Washington would be called atheists by Scalia and the religious right wing thumpers. The constitutional buffer between church and state was put in to prevent religious zealots from ever gaining power and establishing a theocracy. I give up, I'm moving to Canada or begging for amnesty in Europe before I'm 40.


Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks for the comment, Anon. Sometimes I think we're fighting an unwinnable battle, as if we're that famous little Dutch boy with his thumb in the dike. But that's not gonna stop me from "callin' 'em like I see 'em" and standing up to the American Taliban wherever and whenever I find them.
--The F Man

nunya said...

Scalia is one arrogant, power hungry control freak. When he said that he does not believe in using legislative history in deciding the meaning of statutes, that was frightening and wrong. When he said the constitution says anything about the termination of fetal life, I can't help but think that this guy is truly a twisted fuck.

Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks, nunya. Always glad to hear from you.
--The F Man