The Corner

Hadley Arkes@ Havard Law Tonight

debating same-sex marriage.

THEN BACK AT HADLEY’S HOME BASE ON TUESDAY, JUSTICE SCALIA WILL BE APPEARING, which the faculty at Amherst is none too happy about.

Here’s their protest letter:

From the Amherst Student (February 4, 2004)

Protest of Justice Scalia

When Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Amherst next week, we will not be in attendance. We will neither ask questions nor debate Justice Scalia because we believe that the liberal ideals of constructive disagreement and debate only work when both sides act upon these ideals in good faith. We will not offer a tacit endorsement of this man’s presence on campus.

There are many who would argue that such a course is contrary to the democratic exchange of ideas, the respect for differences of opinion and the need to maintain some distinction between private preferences and public debate, all of which should organize an academic community. These are all noble ideals but none to which Justice Scalia himself subscribes. Indeed, it is precisely the conceit of public versus private that allows Justice Scalia to indulge in vitriolic name-calling. Thus, for example, those citizens, gay and straight, who disagree with his position on the sodomy laws are part of a “homosexual agenda” (dissent in Lawrence v. Texas).

Fellow judges who disagree with Justice Scalia over the reach of the equal protection clause to prevent discrimination against homosexuals are not just part of a debate over “constitutional interpretation,” but rather are on the wrong side of a “Kulturkampf” (dissent in Romer v. Evans). To be against capital punishment, to disagree with Justice Scalia over the morality or legality of the death penalty is not to debate the eighth amendment, but to be a bad Christian and/or a European: “the more Christian a country is, the less likely it is to regard the death penalty as immoral. Abolition has taken its firmest hold in post-Christian Europe and has least support in the church-going United States” (from “God’s Justice and Ours,” First Things 123, May 2002).

Finally, despite his invocation of democratic politics over an ‘activist’ judiciary, Justice Scalia is suspicious of the effects of popular sovereignty. He urges: “The reaction of people of faith to the tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should not be resignation to it, but the resolution to combat it as effectively as possible” (from “God’s Justice and Ours”). For the above reasons and many more, the following professors will stay away: Nasser Hussain, Margaret Hunt, Kannan Jagannathan, Martha Saxton, Jay Caplan, Jamal Elias, Thomas Dumm, Austin Sarat, Paola Zamperini, Martha Umphrey, Deborah Gewertz, Jan Dizard, Robert Romer, Rosalina De La Carrera, David Delaney and Judith Frank.


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