By Gudrun Schultz
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 23, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Federal Court decisions on controversial issues such as abortion and suicide rights should be left to the legislature, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Saturday, condemning unelected judges for creating new rights not found in the Constitution.
“You talk about independence as though it is unquestionably and unqualifiedly a good thing,” Scalia said, speaking on the judiciary at a talk sponsored by the National Italian American Foundation, the Associated Press reported. “It may not be. It depends on what your courts are doing.”
“The more your courts become policy-makers, the less sense it makes to have them entirely independent.”
The decision to legalize abortion was an example of a court action that overstepped the bounds of judicial jurisdiction, Scalia said, creatingÂ frustration for both sides of the issue.
“Whichever side wins, in the courts, the other side feels cheated. I mean, you know, there’s something to be said for both sides.”
“The court could have said, ‘No, thank you.’ The court could have said, you know, ‘There is nothing in the Constitution on the abortion issue for either side,’” Scalia said. “It could have said the same thing about suicide, it could have said the same thing about…you know, all the social issues the courts are now taking.”
Judicial activism is a recent social development that threatens the objectivity of the courts, Scalia said.
“It is part of the new philosophy of the Constitution,” he said. “And when you push the courts into that, and when they leap into it, they make themselves politically controversial. And that’s what places their independence at risk.”
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr., speaking at the event, agreed with Scalia—he said, “the same thing exists, but to a lesser degree, with the lower courts.”
Scalia criticized both the media and the general public for making simplistic assumptions about the courts and for sensationalizing judicial decisions.
“The press is never going to report judicial opinions accurately,” he said. “They’re just going to report, who is the plaintiff? Was that a nice little old lady? And who is the defendant? Was this, you know, some skuzzy guy? And who won? Was it the good guy that won or the bad guy? And that’s all you’re going to get in a press report, and you can’t blame them, you can’t blame them. Because nobody would read it if you went into the details of the law that the court has to resolve. So you can’t judge your judges on the basis of what you read in the press.”
Justice Alito agreed with Scalia and said the Internet has radically increased individuals’ ability to affect public opinion on the judiciary. “This is not just like somebody handing out a leaflet in the past, where a small number of people can see this,” he said. “This is available to the world….It changes what it means to be a judge. It certainly changes the attractiveness of a judicial career.”
“It so happens that everything that is stupid is not unconstitutional,” Scalia commented.
Throughout his 20 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia has been consistent in his strong opposition to the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. One of the strongest conservative voices on the Court, Scalia defends an interpretation of the Constitution that is faithful to the original context and meaning.
See related LifeSiteNews coverage:
Scalia Says Roe vs. Wade Abortion Decision Was “improper” Action of Liberal Judges
Scalia Questions ‘Sanity’ of Important Moral Decisions like Abortion Being Decided by ‘Unelected Judges’
SCALIA CHASTISES COURTS FOR OVERSTEPPING BOUNDS