Everyone’s talking right now about New York Magazine’s fascinating and fantastic interview with Justice Antonin Scalia. Some of what’s covered will be familiar to longstanding Scalia groupies, but some of it will be new. In a wide-ranging discussion with Jennifer Senior, Justice Scalia discusses everything from his pet peeves (like women cursing, or majority opinions that ignore the dissent); whether he has any gay friends; his tastes in television (hint: “No soup for you!”); and his desire to hire more law clerks from “lesser” law schools.
The whole thing is worth reading, but here are ten highlights to whet your appetite:
1. He no longer views himself as a “fainthearted” originalist.
“I described myself as that a long time ago. I repudiate that…. [Regarding the punishment of flogging, which is what led me to make that remark years ago,] if a state enacted a law permitting flogging, it is immensely stupid, but it is not unconstitutional. A lot of stuff that’s stupid is not unconstitutional.”
“I gave a talk once where I said they ought to pass out to all federal judges a stamp, and the stamp says—Whack! [Pounds his fist.]—STUPID BUT CONSTITUTIONAL. Whack! [Pounds again.] STUPID BUT CONSTITUTIONAL! Whack! STUPID BUT CONSTITUTIONAL … [Laughs.] And then somebody sent me one.”
2. He’s not a fan of the tiers of scrutiny in Equal Protection Clause analysis.
“I am not a fan of different levels of scrutiny. Strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, blah blah blah blah. That’s just a thumb on the scales.”
3. Nor is he a fan of women dropping the F-bomb.
“One of the things that upsets me about modern society is the coarseness of manners. You can’t go to a movie — or watch a television show for that matter — without hearing the constant use of the F-word — including, you know, ladies using it.”
(I’m waiting for Jezebel to say, “F**k you, Your Honor!”)
4. He has no problem with the new pope.
“He’s the Vicar of Christ. He’s the chief. I don’t run down the pope…. [As for Pope Francis’s desire to shift the dialogue away from socially divisive issues like abortion or gay marriage,] he hasn’t backed off the view of the church on those issues. He’s just saying, ‘Don’t spend all our time talking about that stuff. Talk about Jesus Christ and evangelize.’ I think there’s no indication whatever that he’s changing doctrinally.”
5. He has friends he believes to be gay, but nobody has come out to him.
“I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual. Everybody does. [But in terms of whether anyone has come out to me, n]o. No. Not that I know of.”
(If you are gay and a personal friend of Justice Scalia — maybe a former law clerk? — you should think about coming out to him. You’d make history! And perhaps improve the justice’s views about gay people.)
(Keep reading for His Honor’s views on Satan, Seinfeld, and law clerk hiring….)