Tuesday, February 19, 2008

IntLawGrrls: Justice Antonin Scalia on "so-called torture" and rights, if any, of Guantánamo detainees:
"BBC: If you look at countries with a common law tradition, of which we are one, and you are another, but also, lots of other countries around the world, and in the developing world – if they look at decision of the Supreme Court which affirm the death penalty, and which perhaps affirm torture, although that hasn’t happened yet, does that not set a moral tone?
SCALIA: Well, I urge them not to do that. I don’t look to their law. Why should they look to mine? I don’t purport to be prescribing some universal moral law. I am interpreting the meaning of the text of my Constitution, which was adopted at a certain time by my people, and had a meaning to those people at the time. That’s all I’m doing. I’m not charged with, with figuring out the content of the natural law. If you want to look at our decisions, what you could derive from it is what a wonderful Constitution we have. Or, if you don’t like it, you can say what a terrible Constitution we have. But we don’t pretend to be moral, you know, some Western mullahs, who what decide what is right and wrong for the whole world."

So if morality, what is right, what is wrong, has no part in this Supreme Court justice's decisions, and it is only deciding if a certain legal ruling or piece of legislation is in accord with the literal text of a 200+ year old document, does "justice" have any meaning relevant to our lives in the real world? I really do not understand the incredibly smug mindset of people like this. And even worse than Scalia is Thomas. They say these words had a meaning to "those people at the time". But those people who wrote the Constitution had an understanding that natural law, common law, was "self-evident". Scalia is correct, morality is not mentioned specifically in the Constitution. But the writers DIDN'T THINK THEY NEEDED TO! It was SELF-EVIDENT!

Too bad for us that they wrote those words "self evident" down in another document, the Declaration of Independence, which is NOT a part of our Constitution. For justices Scalia and Thomas and many more like them, they have no bearing on anything at all.

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