Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently gave an interview to the Jewish newspaper Hamodia, in which he articulated his distain for what he labeled “(T)he so-called principle of neutrality – which states that the government cannot favor religion over non-religion.”
Unfortunately, the entire interview is not online, but there is enough to indicate that Justice Scalia certainly has not moderated any of his opinions on church/state separation. When asked how the Supreme Court had changed over the years he had been there, he answered in part
“I just hope – that American jurisprudence is moving away from an evolving Constitution to an enduring Constitution.
I have been here for a long time now – 23 years. In that time, I think the Court has become more receptive to the needs of religious practice. We have allowed government practices that favor religion, practices to which, in the 60s and 70s, we were quite hostile. Earlier we weren’t hostile. When I was in elementary school in Queens you were able to get out early on Wednesdays for religious instruction. In the early 1950s the ACLU challenged this as violating the Establishment Clause but William O. Douglas wrote an opinion that said, ‘We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being… When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions.’
A decade later the Court changed its mind and adopted the so-called principle of neutrality – which states that the government cannot favor religion over non-religion. This is not an accurate representation of what Americans believe. The Court itself has contradicted that principle a number of times – including the case approving tax exemptions for houses of worship (Walz v. Tax Commission) and cases approving paid chaplains in state and federal legislatures. More recently we have allowed the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas State Legislature. I think we have been moving back towards what the American Constitution provided.” (Emphasis mine)
Not an accurate representation of what Americans believe? What the hell does that have to do with anything? The whole point behind a purely secular Constitution was specifically to foster government neutrality towards religion, and not just a specific religion, all religions. Does the Justice suggest that we should take a poll, or have a vote to establish Sharia law based upon our most popular brand of delusion? Of course not, at least I would like to think not. Let’s see how he answers when asked what roll religion should play in American life, and should it play a lesser or greater roll then it does now:
“When you say more or less, it is actually very different in different parts of the country. If you go to the South, religion is much more prominent in public life, in the North much less so.
I will say this. It has not been our American constitutional tradition, nor our social or legal tradition, to exclude religion from the public sphere. Whatever the Establishment Clause means, it certainly does not mean that government cannot accommodate religion, and indeed favor religion. My court has a series of opinions that say that the Constitution requires neutrality on the part of the government, not just between denominations, not just between Protestants, Jews and Catholics, but neutrality between religion and non-religion. I do not believe that. That is not the American tradition.” (Emphasis mine)
Yes, you read that correctly! Justice Scalia has said quite plainly that he would decide First Amendment cases before the court just as though the First Amendment did not exist! He would do so because he does not believe that the First Amendment says what Jefferson, Madison, Washington and even Hamilton said it meant! After all these years we find that indeed the government CAN favor one religion over another, and CAN favor religion over non-religion.
I wonder, if the Justice looked real, real hard, do you think he could find a requirement for a religious test for office? After all, if most Americans believe in an invisible deity who looks out for us and guards us from harm, shouldn’t our leaders be restricted to those who will pay the proper homage to said deity?
What a miserable excuse for a Supreme Court Justice he is!