Scalia claims he’s never expressed his views on marriage equality

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, right, reads from his new book, ‘Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts,’ alongside SMU professor and co-author Bryan Garner. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told an audience at Southern Methodist University on Monday night that he hasn’t previously “expressed [his] views” on marriage equality or gun control.

The comment came while Scalia and SMU professor Bryan Garner were lecturing on their new book, Reading Law: Interpretations of Legal Texts. Part of the lecture focused on interpreting texts in the context in which they were written.

Garner explained that someone can personally disagree with a text but can agree on its interpretation. He explained that he and Scalia differ on gun control and marriage equality because he favors both. Scalia countered that he hadn’t expressed his views on either topic and left it at that.

Scalia’s statement seems at odds with his dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which declared state sodomy laws unconstitutional. In the opinion Scalia wrote:

“State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.”

—  Dallasvoice

Anti-gay U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to speak at SMU tonight

SMU professor Bryan A. Garner, left, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will be at Southern Methodist University tonight to discuss his new book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.

SMU professor and the book’s co-author Bryan A. Garner will join Scalia for the discussion.

It was during a similar lecture at Princeton University in December that Scalia was asked by a gay student about his anti-gay views and how he equates anti-sodomy laws to those banning murder. Scalia said he was drawing a moral parallel between the laws and legislative bodies should ban things viewed as immoral.

Scalia will also serve as a Distinguished Jurist-in-Residence at SMU Dedman School of Law Monday and Tuesday, where he will speak to several law classes.

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium. General admission tickets are $35. Tickets and a copy of the book are $50. Books will not be sold at the event, but Garner and Scalia will sign copies. To register, go here.

—  Dallasvoice

Supreme Court rules on the side of LGBT rights in Washington state case

Clarence Thomas
Justice Clarence Thomas

As the Supreme Court session comes to a close, a number of decisions have been handed down this week. With little fanfare, the court ruled for LGBT rights groups in an 8-1 decision. Only Clarence Thomas voted against, according to the Washington Post.

The Supreme Court ruled that people who sign petitions calling for public votes do not have a right to have their names shielded.

The case involved a Washington state petition to repeal an LGBT domestic partnership law. The anti-marriage group Protect Marriage Washington sued to keep the names of people who signed their petitions secret fearing harassment.

What was surprising about the ruling against the right-wing organization is that the ruling and supporting opinions came from the Court’s own right wing.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion. He said disclosure of names is necessary to ensure their authenticity.

The group argued that petitioners have a right to free speech without fear of harassment. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that laws are in place to prevent reprisals.

The Supreme Court blocked the release of names until their decision. Names are unlikely to be released until the case goes back to lower courts for review.

In the election, Protect Marriage Washington lost by a vote of 53 percent to 46 percent. Same-sex domestic partnerships are the equivalent of marriage in Washington state law.

Fewer than half of states allow citizens to put initiatives on the ballot through petitions. Texas is not one of them.

—  David Taffet

Supreme Court votes 8-1 to allow animal cruelty … and you'll never guess who dissented

Cat holdup

I would expect Antonin Scalia to buy kitty snuff films. But where was the wise Latina? Hmmm … not so wise today, in my opinion.

OK, slap me. For the first time in … well, ever, I’m agreeing with Justice Samuel Alito.

In an 8-1 vote today, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that made selling videos with depictions of animal cruelty illegal. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority that the law infringed on free speech rights.

Roberts wrote that the government’s case for limiting First Amendment coverage of free speech was “startling and dangerous.” We agree.

But the 1999 law was written in response to “crush videos” in which women dig their high heels into kittens and other small animals.

“There are myriad federal and state law concerning the proper treatment of animals, but many of them are not designed to guard against animal cruelty,” Roberts wrote. “Protections of endangered species, for example, restrict even the humane wounding or killing of living animals.”

So the opinion doesn’t actually say that intentional animal cruelty is OK. It says that the person selling videos of it is not doing something unconstitutional.

In his minority opinion, Alito wrote that the law banning depictions of animals being mutilated, tortured or killed was intended “to prevent horrific acts of animal cruelty — in particular, the creation and commercial exploitation of ‘crush videos,’ a form of depraved entertainment that has no social value.”

One objection the majority had to the law was its overly broad nature. The Humane Society, which had filed a friend of the court brief, said they hoped Congress would write a new, narrower version.

This case does not bode well for the father of a soldier killed in Iraq. In that case, the father sued Fred Phelps for inflicting harm to him and his family during his son’s funeral. A jury awarded him $3 million but an appeals court vacated the judgment and charged the father with court costs. The Supreme Court is due to hear the case pitting free speech against inflicting harm during a period of grieving.

If the Supreme Court finds that free speech trumps killing animals, then surely free speech trumps one man’s right to grieve without hearing protests.

—  David Taffet