Justice Scalia thinks it's "absolutely easy" to channel the minds of dead people

Justice Scalia thinks it's "absolutely easy" to channel the minds of dead people

by digby

He's so sure of himself:

Antonin Scalia isn’t sweating it. At a book reading and lecture at Washington’s American Enterprise Institute this week, the 76-year-old associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and self-described “textualist” entertained the crowd by rattling off a litany of his top judicial no-brainers.

“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion,” he said. “Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”

Slavery and Jim Crow used to be legal and women weren't allowed to have their own money or vote. But in Nino's world, America is suspended in amber in 1789 and that's where it will stay forever more.

I cannot understand why this man is considered so brilliant. To me, this view is infantile. This simplistic deification of the founders as if the constitution was something other than a simple organizing document that can be changed and interpreted however the people of the United Stated choose to interpret it. It's not a sacred document. If he wants to think such things exist, there are plenty of them out there. Obviously, he should have been a priest.

But even if you believe that everything must be guided by the "plain words" of the constitution, as Ian Millhiser at Think Progress points out, it's complicated. For instance:

"...the death penalty. The Constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments,” but it provides no other guidance on just how vicious a punishment must be to become “cruel” or how uncommon it must be to become “unusual.” Does the fact that the death penalty is increasingly rare in the United States meet the threshold of unconstitutionality? The Constitution doesn’t say."

I have to say, it's even more obscure than he says. I always assumed that "unusual" meant "bizarre" not uncommon. Shows what I know.

Antonin Scalia cannot know what was inside the founders heads. They weren't Gods, they were a bunch of colonial farmers. And even they disagreed on what the "plain words" meant. Half the time they were the result of compromises that nobody particularly believed in. He must know that the founders weren't all of one mind or that many of them might have not had a strong opinion about certain things one way or the other. You don't have to be a historian or a Supreme Court Justice to know that. You just have to have been alive on planet earth for a time observing how human beings act --- particularly powerful arrogant men with axes to grind. Like Antonin Scalia.

I assume that his view is held in great esteem by many in legal circles, but I think they are missing the forest for the trees. As a lowly layperson, I can easily say that it is simply absurd on its face that Americans in 2012 are bound by the mores and habits of the 18th Century. I'm sorry, it's just stupid.