Judges should not be considered the "moral arbiters" on issues such as abortion, the death penalty and "homosexual conduct", according to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Scalia made the remarks in a Friday speech delivered to the North Carolina Bar Association, reports the Charlotte Observer. The comments by the 77-year-old Scalia—the high court's longest serving member—come on the eve of the Court's potentially historic decisions on same-sex marriage expected next week.
The outspoken and conservative jurist told the N.C. Bar Association that constitutional law is threatened by a growing belief in the “judge moralist.” In that role, judges are bestowed with special expertise to determine right and wrong in such matters as abortion, doctor-assisted suicide, the death penalty and same-sex marriage.
Scalia said that approach presents two problems: Judges are not moral experts, and many of the moral issues now coming before the courts have no "scientifically demonstrable right answer." ... Scalia is barred from publicly discussing pending cases. But during his half-hour speech at the Grove Park Inn on Friday, the 77-year-old frequently listed homosexuality among the issues that should be decided by the public and not unelected judges.
During a question-and-answer period that followed the judge’s speech, Scalia [was asked] if he would have taken a similarly hands-off approach to Brown v. Board of Education the legal cornerstone of school desegregation across the country.
Scalia said he would have voted with the majority on the case to create more educational opportunities for blacks. He added, however, that "a good result" doesn’t make for good law. Had the courts not interceded, he said, state leaders would have eventually removed the racial barriers.
Eventually? Like maybe in the 1980s or 1990s ...
The arch-conservative jurist also joked about "sex orgies", reports the Asheville Citizen-Times.
"I accept for the sake of argument, for example, that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged," Scalia said, evoking laughter in the audience. "Rather, I am questioning the propriety, the sanity of having a value-laden decision such as this made for the entire society by unelected judges."
Scalia cast dissenting votes in the landmark Romer v Evans and Lawrence v Texas cases which dealt with LGBT rights. The Supreme Court is expected to issue rulings next week on Proposition 8, the Defense of Marriage Act and affirmative action.
PHOTO: Asheville Citizen-Times