Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the high court is a political institution that has mainly curbed the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution. He told a recent gathering at the College of William and Mary that the court has misinterpreted the founding document and must change its ways.
Scalia said his own very strict interpretation of the Constitution is a very efficient system that answers questions about todays issues, such as gay rights and abortion. I cannot do the horrible, conservative things I would like to do to society, he said, and then added he must follow what the Founding Fathers set down.
The controversial justice, currently under fire for socializing during a duck hunting vacation with Vice President Dick Cheney while Cheney is a defendant before the court, said he bases his rulings, not on social preferences, but instead on how the Constitution should be applied. Scalia did not mention the duck hunting trip.
The Reagan appointee said: I dont like bearded sandal-wearing weirdos burning the flag, but he voted in their favor because the First Amendment gives them that right.
Scalia was very critical of the confirmation process that judicial appointees must endure. He cited the case of Manuel Estrada, a conservative Bush nominee to the federal appeals bench, who withdrew when Senate liberals opposed his appointment. The people have come to realize were not looking for good lawyers anymore, he said. Thats what we used to do.
He said political views are paramount today, and the litmus test is abortion. Scalia said that approach puts the Constitution under the control of the party in power and hands control to the legislative branch that the court is intended to counterbalance.
Scalia said the issue of gay rights may come before the high court as a question of whether the laws of one state must be observed in another.
Scalia is also considered the swing vote on the Supreme Court that gave the presidential election to George W. Bush.
Source: Associated Press