Friday, March 01, 2013

Scalia's America

The nation’s life today is being shaped less by elected politicians in the headlines than a 76-year-old man who prefers any other century to this one.

Antonin Gregory Scalia is the longest-serving justice on the Supreme Court and, without doubt, the most aggressively backward-looking ever.

After turning the history of the Second Amendment on its head five years ago to restore a gun-crazy America of the old Wild West, he is now embarked on dismantling a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act as a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

If last November’s presidential election had gone the other way, Scalia would now be one obituary away from overturning legalized abortion as well as weakening the rights of anyone other than old white men.

In 2000, the Reagan appointee was joined by his Bush I echo Clarence Thomas in handing the White House to Bush II.

In 2008, Scalia’s deciding vote turned the Second Amendment on its head, reversing almost a century of legal interpretation that the “right to bear arms” was not meant for individuals.

His arrogance shines through again in yesterday’s assertion that Congress’ almost unanimous re-approval of minority voting rights in Southern states is more an entitlement than a protection against exclusion. How far will his second-guessing of the legislative branch go?

The only heartening news is that Scalia’s retrograde views are being openly challenged by Obama appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. In an era when even the Vatican is changing its old guard, there is some hope that America can in the coming four years.

Update: Scalia is not alone. Now it turns out Chief Justice John Roberts is with him on voting rights and misusing statistics at that to “prove” Massachusetts has a lower black turnout than Mississippi. The air must pretty rare up there on that bench.

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