Antonin Scalia: a supreme court justice ‘extreme and out of step’ with women

The conservatives opinions on discrimination, sexuality, race and abortion induced him a liberal bugbear. But he did have some capacity for understanding

It would be an understatement to note that Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away on Saturday, was a controversial figure. Known for his acerbic disagreements and what President Obama called a larger than life presence on the bench, the supreme court justices demise immediately elicited discussion on how soon is too soon to note the style a public people career negatively affected so many.

Given Scalias penchant for discrepancy and unapologetically saying what you think, however, it seems unlikely that hed take issue with the American people doing the same in the wake of his occur. And the truth is that throughout Scalias long tenure on the supreme court, he crafted a legacy that was decidedly regressive and anti-woman.

Scalia was a proponent of originalism, believing that the constitutions entailing is fixed, and should be interpreted in the way the framers originally intended. He was decidedly anti-progressive: Scalia wanted to overturn Roe v Wade, voted against protecting equal pay, wanted states to be able to proscribe homosexual sexuality, and sometimes said things outside of the courtroom about these issues that created eyebrows.

Jessica Mason Pieklo, vice-president of statute and the courts at RH Reality Check, a pressure group concerned with reproductive and sex health issues, says: He argued abortion rights, same sexuality wedding, and policies that address systemic racial segregation all should be left to the voters while insisting firms have constitutional religious rights to deny employees equal benefits on the basis of gender.

In a 2011 interview with California Lawyer, Scalia said he believed that females were not protected by the constitution, bucking decades of precedent.

Certainly the constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex, Scalia said.

The only issue is whether it proscribes it. It doesnt If the current society wants to outlawed discrimination by sexuality, hey, we have things called parliaments, and they enact things called laws.

The American Civil Liberties Union called his comments extreme and out of step with the mainstream; the National Womens Law Center said: Rather than acknowledging that our understanding of the principles enshrined in the constitution grows and deepens over time,[ Scalia] would freeze its meaning in the 19 th century.

Scalia strolled back the controversial comments a bit in a 2013 New York Magazine interview, saying of course the 14 th amendment prohibits discrimination by sexuality but that the issue is what constitutes discrimination.

There are some intelligent reasons to treat women differently, he noted.( He also carried inconvenience with women who swear .)

On abortion, Scalia guessed similarly, saying in a visit to the Oxford Union that the constitution says nothing about[ the human rights of abortion ]. In addition to wanting to overturn Roe, Scalia voted to uphold legislation that banned abortion in the second trimester without a health exception, and came down on the side of anti-abortion protesters trying to block womens access to clinics. Scalia even characterized the protesters who often call at females, call them assassins, and even assault them as wanting to comfort females.

And during oral arguments for the Hobby Lobby case on contraception coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act, Scalia apparently agreed with Hobby Lobbys incorrect characterization of some forms of birth control as abortion-inducing, calling them abortifacients .

It should be noted, though, that some in the anti-abortion community were torn on Scalia after a 2008 60 Minutes interview in which he told Lesley Stahl that he disagreed with those who thought you treat a helpless human being thats still in the womb the route you treat other human beings.

I think when the constitution says that persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws, he said, I think it clearly means walking-around persons.

Afterwards, the American Life League called Scalia the enemy and his comments downright ridiculous, as a matter of fact, it is heretical.

The justice was also known for his breathtaking homophobia. In Romer v Evans he defended hostility towards gay people as similar to the disdain one would have towards slaying or brutality to animals and compared laws that limited LGBT people rights to those that adversely affect smokers or drug addicts.

In Lawrence v Texas he wrote something similar, arguing that while outlawing lesbian sexuality does enforce constraints on autonomy, so do laws that proscribe prostitution or recreational use of heroin. He also compared gay sex to incest and bestiality and argued that states had the right to induce lesbian sexuality illegal since they are position this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.

Scalias views on race also described wide criticism. During oral debates for the affirmative action occurrence Fisher v University of Texas last year, he made offensive remarks concerning people of color, saying: There are the individuals who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school a slower-track school where they do well.

According to one reporter, the comment elicited muted gasp in the courtroom.

Pieklo said: A lot has been said about how brilliant a writer Scalia was, but I think its important to remember that behind that brilliant prose were a lot of radically dangerous beliefs.

Despite Scalias history of anti-woman beliefs and rulings, he remained close with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, so much so that a comedic opu, Scalia/ Ginsburg, was created in their honor.

Irin Carmon, writer of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote of their friendship: Whether or not it was how Scalia watched it, for Ginsburg their public relationship also made a statement about the court as an institution: that it was strengthened by respectful debate, that it could work no matter how polarized its members were.

Its unclear what Scalias death will mean for upcoming cases concerning females. Next month, for example, the court is set to hear debates in Whole Womans Health v Hellerstedt, on the Texas law that effectively shut down most of the states abortion clinics .


Scalia makes a rare appearance on Capitol hill, to witnes before a Senate judiciary committee hearing in 2011. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/ EPA

The law required that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges to hospitals within 30 miles of their clinic and that any clinics abortions satisfying the same building regulations as ambulatory surgical centres. The Center for Reproductive Rights has called the law deceptive, and noted that it has placed too many hurdles in front of women trying abortions.

In the process, HB2 punishes women for their decision to workout their constitutional right to aim a pregnancy, they say .

With Scalias death, the ruling might result in a tie in Whole Womans Health, in which example the lower court ruling which would let Texas law stand would remain in effect.

No matter what happens in future examples, what is clear is that Scalias empty seat will irrevocably affect womens and civil rights; and should Congress effectively stall President Obamas supreme court pick, the next chairperson could possibly appoint up to three justices. For better or worse a lot would argue for better none will leave the various kinds of legacy Scalia did.

As Slates Dahlia Lithwick wrote, Scalia was the most three-dimensional justice with an often two-dimensional worldview.

History will likely remember him as someone who was gloriously, powerfully on the wrong side of so many important matter. But history is certainly remember him.

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