Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court Justice, found himself Monday defending legal writings that some people said were anti-gay and offensive. While giving a speech at Princeton University, Scalia received a question from a student who was gay. The student asked why Scalia equated laws that banned sodomy with those that bar murder and bestiality.
The Justice said he did not think it was necessary but it is effective and added that legislatures can ban things they believe are immoral.
Scalia has given speeches across the country promoting “Reading Law,” his new book and his recent lecture at Princeton took place only days after the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases that are a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act of the federal government, which says marriage is between a man and a woman.
Some people present who attended to listen to Scalia speak about his new book broke out in applause, but more clapped at the question from Duncan Hosie, the Princeton freshman.
During the period of questions and answers, Scalia said to Hosie that it is a form of a defense that is called reduction to the absurd. If we are not allowed to posses moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have them against murder or against other issues?
Scalia said he did not equate sodomy to murder, but drew a parallel between bans on each one. Afterwards, Hosie said he had not been persuaded by the answer from Scalia. He said Scalia’s writings in his opinion dehumanize gays.
Scalia, as he does often in public lectures, took aim at those who see the Constitution as a document that is living and changes as the times change. He said it is not living, but dead, dead, dead.
He remarked that those who view the Constitution as being able to change often use the argument they are taking an approach that is more flexible. However, he said, their real goal is to set new policy permanently.