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Justice Antonin Scalia's Hypocrisy On Parade

From torture to campaign finance, Scalia's double standards were in full view during recent remarks on Swiss National Radio.
Justice Antonin Scalia's Hypocrisy On Parade

Justice Antonin Scalia has some serious double standards when it comes to killing, torture, and campaign finance.

Speaking to Swiss National Radio, Scalia aired his opinion of torture, citing an episode of "24" as justification:

"I think it is very facile for people to say 'Oh, torture is terrible,'" he said. "You posit the situation where a person that you know for sure knows the location of a nuclear bomb that has been planted in Los Angeles and will kill millions of people.

"You think it's an easy question? You think it's clear that you cannot use extreme measures to get that information out of that person?

Um, it was a series. Life is never so easy that there would be sure knowledge of where a nuclear weapon is or that the person in custody "knows for sure." But even if there were, torture isn't going to yield the answer. Why is this so difficult for a Supreme Court Justice to understand?

Scalia is one of the most fervent anti-abortion justices, but when it comes to the death penalty, he's just fine with it.

Scalia also discussed the death penalty, saying he thinks it's "too bad" that a campaign in Switzerland to re-institute capital punishment has been thwarted by the the country's membership in the Council of Europe, which has made the issue a requirement for all participating countries.

"What are human rights is not written up in the sky, and if it were written up in the sky, it would not be up to judges, lawyers, just because they've gone to law school, to know what human rights ought to be and therefore are," Scalia said.

"And therefore each society's perception of what it believes human rights should be ought to be up to that society, and I think it's very foolish to yield that determinations not only to a foreign body but to a foreign body of judges," he said. "I don't know why anyone would want to do that."

I have never understood this line of thought from those who claim the sanctity of life supercedes everything. For them, it's fine to kill someone who might have committed the crime. There's never any thought of the possibility that perhaps that person they're about to kill didn't commit whatever crime they're being executed for. Conscience is absent from those decisions, yet conscience is what they claim justifies forcing birth on women with no choice.


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Finally, we get to campaign finance.

And he brushed off questions about whether Supreme Court decisions opening the door for outside groups to spend unlimited sums of money on elections have hurt the country, saying that "the amount of money that is spent on all elections -- state, local and federal -- in the United States, is less than what women spend on cosmetics for a year, OK?"

He said the alternative is having Congress impose limits on "who can speak and how much who can speak."

So in Scalia's view, we're faced with a binary decision. Let billionaires impose limits on who can speak and how much they can speak, or Congress.

I'll take my chances with Congress.

Scalia won't, and the reason he won't has nothing whatsoever to do with the Constitution.

"If you think that a fair system of election speech is going to be devised by the incumbent senators and congressmen, you are naive," he said. "They will for sure, as they have in the past, devise a system that favors the incumbent. If that's the choice of evils -- have a system that always favors the incumbent or, you know, let people speak as much as they want with as much money as they want -- I choose the latter. I don't even regard the latter as an evil."

These remarks from Scalia just affirm my conviction that he approaches everything through the lens of political ideology instead of legal interpretation. The tipoff was his concern about who benefits from which benefactor. If Congress decides, the incumbents benefit (in his view). If billionaires decide, then not so much. Because reality says that we, the people, will never outspend the billionaire class with their stealth nonprofits and their endless supply of Billionaire Bucks.

Retire, Justice Scalia. Retire now.

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