Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Most Dangerous Justice EVER...

I remember when I was a little poli-sci tadpole taking POLS 201 - American Civil Liberties under Dr. Paul Weber. On one of our exams there was a gag bonus question: "Who is the most dangerous justices on the U.S. Supreme Court?" The correct answer was Anthony Kennedy (because he's kind of unpredictable as a swing voter at times), but I put down, simply, "Scalia".

I stand by that to this day.

Check out this post over on Pharyngula that discusses Scalia's head-in-the-sand approach to separation of church and state in the ongoing Salazar v. Buono case. See, here's a WWI memorial in the middle of the Mojave National Reserve. The problem? It's a huge freakin' latin cross, has nothing on or around it to distinguish it as a war memorial (or anything else but a whopping big cross), and its current incarnation was installed by a private citizen without permission from the National Parks Service. The Court is currently being asked to consider whether having a big cross on federal land as a war memorial constitutes an illegal endorsement of a specific religion on the part of the government. Inasmuch as any case before the Supreme Court is uncomplicated, Salazar v Buono is relatively straightforward...

...except that Scalia apparently doesn't think that a latin cross is a Christian symbol. Seriously. Get a load of this exchange between Scalia and ACLU lawyer Peter Eliasberg:

"The cross doesn't honor non-Christians who fought in the war?" Scalia asks, stunned.

"A cross is the predominant symbol of Christianity, and it signifies that Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem mankind for our sins," replies Eliasberg, whose father and grandfather are both Jewish war veterans.

"It's erected as a war memorial!" replies Scalia. "I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead. The cross is the most common symbol of ... of ... of the resting place of the dead."

Eliasberg dares to correct him: "The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of Christians. I have been in Jewish cemeteries. There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew."

"I don't think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead the cross honors are the Christian war dead," thunders Scalia. "I think that's an outrageous conclusion!"

That's. Freaking. Assinine.

Is the hubris of religious folks really such that they think their specific religious symbols are so universal and meaningful that they have an intrinsic spiritual value to people outside of their faith as well as within? Actually, I guess we already know the answer to that question.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also remember that Mr. Scalia, while recognizing the Ten Commandments as religious, rather than historical, did not have a problem with their display in a courthouse. He seems to have self-serving reasoning abilities, which he attempts to call "originalist."