I know. The headline seems rather harsh. But let me tell you why it’s fitting.
So I happen to be visiting friends in the Bay Area. And we are in a sports bar chilling, catching up. And the news of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death hits the airwaves. And true to the Bay Area’s liberal roots, the entire bar erupts in cheer, as if someone just scored the winning touchdown at a Super Bowl.
As if applause and vocal cheers weren’t enough, the folks at the far end of the establishment actually broke out in song: Ding Dong, the witch is gone!
Now, I will state for the record that it’s not appropriate to rejoice at the death of another human being. If nothing else—and I mean, at the very least, if nothing else—that person has family, loved ones, who are now in pain and will be grieving their loss for some time to come.
But it’s also hard to disdain the bar customers’ collective reaction, unless you’re a privileged, racist, white man. Scalia was a stubborn, self-righteous man. Some would even call him hateful. And it would be very difficult to argue they were wrong.
He didn’t hesitate, even in his public role as a Supreme Court Justice, to attack and denigrate others with fervor and relish. The unadulterated joy at his passing is, plainly put, a reflection of what he doled out while on the bench.
Scalia was a very biased justice, and that’s putting it nicely. To phrase it truthfully, he was faithful to elitist, racist, white people. If you didn’t fall into that category, he pretty much had no use for you, and his disdain showed in the things he said, the opinions he wrote.
Let’s not forget that Scalia, whom almost everyone on the right is now scrambling to proclaim was a true Constitutionalist as a justice, didn’t really seem to know the very basic thing about the Constitution. He is famously quoted as saying, “the Constitution is not a living organism. It is a legal document. It says what is says and doesn’t say what it doesn’t say.”
The Constitution is not a living organism? How does someone who holds this ignorant belief actually pass law school let alone get appointed to the Supreme Court?
The Constitution, by definition, is a living, breathing thing. That was the wisdom of the founders. They understood things change over time and wanted a governance document that could adapt, could change with the times.
One word: Amendment.
If it’s not a living organism, where do amendments come from?
And take a look at how Scalia saw anyone who wasn’t white, conservative, and male:
Take this “jewel” about homosexuals: “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools…they view this as protecting themselves…from a lifestyle they believe to be immoral and destructive.”
Some people thought black people being freemen was immoral. And destructive. Some people thought women being able to vote in a democracy was immoral. And destructive.
So according to Scalia, the Supreme Court should have protected the rights of slave owners, racists, and misogynists because other people enjoying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness made these right-wing bigots uncomfortable.
Scalia also compared same-sex marriage to murder. And incest. According to Scalia, in his dissent on Romer V Evans, “it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings…but I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible—murder, for example.”
I guess if we disdain murder, we are discriminating against those poor, poor, suffering murderers.
He didn’t just target homosexuals and homosexual rights. His blatant racism was often on full display. He couldn’t wait to deem racism not only over, but anything that helped ease the heavy racism in America was, in fact, a “racial entitlement.”
When the Supreme Court heard arguments about the reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act, Scalia quipped, “it’s sort of extraordinary to say Congress can just pick out…these eight states…for perpetuation of a racial entitlement.”
Anyone care to take a guess which eight states? Okay, enough sarcasm. We can all guess, pretty accurately, at least 5 or 6 of the 8 states.
Stephen Colbert took Scalia and the rest of the justices who voted to strike down section 5 to task with the most perfect metaphor: “these states are just saying ‘yes, I used to beat my girlfriend, but I haven’t since the restraining order, so we don’t need [the restraining order] anymore.’”
Though we’d all think it’d be tough to top this kind of blatant bigotry, Scalia perhaps saved some of his most shining discriminatory views for women. In a 2011 interview, Scalia actually said, “certainly, the Constitution does not require discrimination based on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. T doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant.”
Oh really? Perhaps Scalia needs to read his copy of the Constitution beyond the 2nd Amendment. The 14th Amendment of this so-called non-living organism, has an equal protection clause, which reads as follows:
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; no shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or pursuit of property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The more we see of Scalia, the more absurd and scary it becomes that he sat on the Supreme Court.
So while I wouldn’t encourage people to treat Scalia’s death as an occasion to celebrate, the fact of the matter is it has become that. And that is no one’s fault but Scalia’s, the man who relished being the “most outspoken member of the Supreme Court.”
Hey, you live by the sword, you die by the sword.
But let’s be honest. Scalia, a man whose “morals” clearly seem more at home on the plantations of the 1800’s than the global society of the 21st century, was severely out of place in the here and now. And he likely lived in some kind of pain from his misfit life in the 21st century. So his passing, in the end, ought to be celebrated as the man may just finally, finally, be at peace.