Arguably the most identifiably Catholic (for the wrong reasons, many would argue) justice on the Supreme Court is Antonin Scalia, and he spoke to Tim Russert in an MSNBC interview Sunday about the impact of his faith on his jurisprudence. It ain't much, apparently, and ought to beenough to get him tossed out off any self-respecting Catholic campus. No?
RUSSERT: And we are back talking to Antonin Scalia, justice of the Supreme Court. Hes co-author of his new book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.
You went to Villanova University in Philadelphia recently and said theres no such thing as a Catholic judge. You happen to be Catholic. Explain why theres no such thing as a Catholic judge.
SCALIA: The same reason theres no such thing as ayou know, in my estimation, no such thing as a female judge. I mean, a good judge is a good judge. And at least if you have my judicial philosophy, which is to give the fairest possible meaning to the text that youre dealing with. And when youre dealing with the Constitution, you ask the question, what did it mean when the people adopted it? And once you find that, the case is done. How does my religion have anything to do with what those words mean and what they were understood to mean by the people who ratified them? Obviously nothing at all. So the onlyI may have said that at Villanova the only part of my faith that has any play in my judicial enterprise is whatever commandment it issixthThou Shalt Not Lie.
RUSSERT: You describe yourself as an originalist.
RUSSERT: Which means?
SCALIA: Which means I give the Constitution its original meaning. And what it prohibited then it prohibits now. And what it permitted then it permitted now. So, you know, for example, the death penalty. If youre an originalist, the issue of whether the death penalty is unconstitutional is really a non-issue.
SCALIA: Because it isit wasit was the only penalty for a felony at the time the Constitution was adopted. Nobody ever thought that the Constitution branded the death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment. It just didnt.
RUSSERT: Is it different for Catholic legislators when the church will say you should not be voting for abortion rights, or the church feels this way on the issue of stem-cell research or the death penalty than it is for a Catholic judge?
SCALIA: It may well be. Ive always been happy that Im a judge. And all I have to do is look at the law. What does it say? Tell the truth about what it says, and thats my job. It would be harder for me as a legislator.
I didn't realize the bench was a zone of amorality. Makes it easier to sleepat night.