Saturday, February 20, 2016

Remembering Scalia

As promised when I posted this week's cartoon, Supremeback Saturday rummages through the dank and musty files of my early cartoons throughout the admagistracy of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. (Enbiggenification available when beclickened.)

It was 1986 and Ronald Reagan was in his second term. So far, he had named Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court, filling a 1980 campaign promise to name the first female Justice. The liberal wing of the Court consisted of Justices Harry Blackmun, Lewis Powell, Thurgood Marshall, and William Brennan (not pictured: John Paul Stevens); Reagan clearly itched for some of them to retire.
Next to Reagan in this February, 1986 cartoon are Attorney General Ed Meese, and Appeals Court Judges Robert Bork and Richard Posner (both Reagan appointees). Is that Scalia peering over Meese's suitcase? I don't remember whether I already knew who he was or what he looked like; but that's not how I drew Nixon, and it doesn't quite look like Pat Buchanan or Joe McCarthy, either.

Nevertheless, it was Antonin Scalia's name that came up a few months later when Reagan's next opportunity to shape the Court arose. Liberals were none too enthused by Scalia's nomination, but the higher profile appointment was that of William Rehnquist to succeed fellow Nixon appointee Warren Burger as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. (Scalia was appointed to replace Rehnquist as Associate Justice.) Rehnquist was the most right-wing justice on the court at the time, having been the lone dissenter in Ake v. Oklahoma (1985), Bob Jones University v. U.S. (1983), Richmond Newspapers Inc. v. Virginia (1980) and Taylor v. Louisiana (1975). Rehnquist had also recused himself in the otherwise unanimous U.S. v. Nixon (1974).

Scalia and Rehnquist were easily confirmed anyway, and this cartoon from July, 1986 predicted that they would be joined by Donald Regan, William Clark, Bork, Meese, Clint Eastwood, and Nancy Reagan; and that claims of discrimination would become much harder to prove.

Reagan did in fact name Robert Bork to the court the next year, when Justice Powell retired; but you may remember that the Democratic Senate refused to confirm his nomination and Republicans turned his name into a verb. The Senate eventually confirmed Anthony Kennedy, in an election year, as your liberal Facebook friends have already reminded you several times. (The time between Bork's nomination and Kennedy joining the Court -- even with the aborted nomination of pot-smoker Douglas Ginsburg in the interim: 233 days.)

The first of my cartoons in which Scalia gets the starring role was in June, 2003, after Scalia's caustic dissent in Lawrence v. Texas. The case arose from the arrest of John Lawrence and Tyrone Gardner, whom Houston police found having consensual sex in Lawrence's home when they responded to an unfounded weapons complaint. The Court's decision, written by Justice Kennedy, was that Lawrence's and Gardner's right of due process was violated by Texas's laws outlawing homosexual activity between consenting adults.

Scalia scolded the majority for overturning Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) and predicted a parade of horribles: an end to state laws against obscenity, bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, and bestiality.
"Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.... [T]he Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed."

Two years later, this happened:
I'm sure that today, that kid is a well-respected junior partner somewhere.

There have been two Justices on the Supreme Court whom I have particularly enjoyed drawing, and it's amusing to learn that in spite of their diametrically opposed views on so many constitutional issues. and the lively exchanges in the opinions they have authored, they were actually very close friends who shared a love of opera and celebrated New Year's Eve together year after year.

When the Court struck down the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) in U.S. v. Windsor (2013), Scalia's dissent wailed that the Court had "formally declar[ed] anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency."

And finally, last year, Scalia's prediction of the end of civilization was fully realized, as the Court voted 5-4 in favor of marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges. Each of the minority judges wrote his own dissent; Scalia called the decision "a threat to democracy." Contrast the "mummery" of the majority opinion with the sheer poetry of Scalia's uffish thoughts:
"Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie."

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