Sunday, February 21, 2016

Jeffrey Toobin on Antonin Scalia

Looking Back - The New Yorker

"Antonin Scalia, who died this month, after nearly three decades on the Supreme Court, devoted his professional life to making the United States a less fair, less tolerant, and less admirable democracy. Fortunately, he mostly failed. Belligerent with his colleagues, dismissive of his critics, nostalgic for a world where outsiders knew their place and stayed there, Scalia represents a perfect model for everything that President Obama should avoid in a successor. The great Justices of the Supreme Court have always looked forward; their words both anticipated and helped shape the nation that the United States was becoming. Chief Justice John Marshall read the new Constitution to allow for a vibrant and progressive federal government. Louis Brandeis understood the need for that government to regulate an industrializing economy. Earl Warren saw that segregation was poison in the modern world. Scalia, in contrast, looked backward."


Toobin just eviscerates Scalia in this piece, and he's right. Scalia was one of the worst Supreme Court justices in a century. His so-called judicial philosophy was really just a smoke screen that he used to justify imposing his retrograde values on the country. He was not an originalist, or a textualist, except when it suited him.  Whenever he wanted, he ignored the text of the constitution and the imaginary "original meaning" of the words.  He was notorious for taking all-expenses-paid junkets on the tab of rich people, and giving bloviating speeches to the Federalist society where he would pronounce his dogmatic personal opinions on matters coming before the courts, and then he would arrogantly reject demands that he recuse himself for obvious bias.  Scalia's hypocrisy knew no limits.  He was a right-wing movement judicial activist with a totally predictable voting record who claimed to be a deep believer in judicial restraint, and just laughed when people pointed that out.  Listen to the screams of anguish at his passing from Rush Limbaugh and all the other right wing AM radio and Fox News loons. They knew exactly what Scalia was all about. That was the joke Scalia was always smirking about. He was a fraud, he knew it, and he got away with. It made him happy to do things like giving the presidency to Bush, empowering the gun bullies who are terrorizing the country, striking down the Voting Rights Act, denouncing gays and lesbians, and unleashing the tidal wave of dark money that is drowning what was left of democracy in the US.  The best thing that could happen to Scalia's judicial legacy is obliteration. He will go down in history as a reactionary sideshow who held back social and political progress.

1 comment:

Tom Skiba said...

Now that's what I was talking about when I emailed you last week. ;)

The GOP has to be very careful about this nomination. Everyone expects Obama to nominate someone relatively centrist. They may reject Obama's nominee out of hand, but if the Democrats retain the White House in November they may end up with a much more actively progressive nominee under Hilary or Bernie, or perhaps someone who would just remind the GOP of their obstructionism.

Can you say Mr. Justice Obama? Bet that would stick in the GOP craw for a couple of decades.