Generous Orthodoxy  




Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Justice Scalia sounds off

This morning on the BBC World Service Newshour, Justice Antonin Scalia talked freely about his views in a way that I have never heard any Supreme Court Justice do. Apparently he has chosen the BBC as his preferred microphone. His subjects were torture and the death penalty, and I for one found his observations deeply shocking--but also an interesting window into how a "strict constructionist" thinks about the Constitution. If we had to interpret the Bible the way he interprets the Constitution, we would still be following everything in Leviticus.

Scalia's disdain for European values was manifest. America, he thought, had no responsibility for "foreigners," no investment in common law. The BBC interviewer pressed him hard, in the inimitable fashion of the BBC broadcasters. Scalia's scorn only increased. He seemed infatuated with the "ticking time bomb" scenario, which has very little resonance among those who really understand these matters--it is better suited for television dramas like "24." It was surprising, to say the least, to hear a Supreme Court Justice in a crudely credulous mood.

I tried to find a link for this interview on the BBC World Service Newshour website, but was unsuccessful. There will be much coverage around the world as the Guantanamo detainees are brought to trial (if they are), so we can expect a lot more. Here in the New York suburbs we are very fortunate to have the BBC from 9 to 10 each morning.