Justice Scalia: Abortion, Gay Rights Cases "Easy"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 5 2012 10:51 AM

Justice Scalia Explains Why He Finds His Job So Easy Sometimes

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, seen here in 2005, calls himself a "textualist"

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

We'd always imagined that being a Supreme Court justice wasn't the easiest of jobs. (Well, at least when they're not on their three-month-long summer vacation.) But to hear Justice Antonin Scalia tell it, that's not exactly the case, at least when it comes to some of the most heated topics that come before the high court.

Scalia calls himself a "textualist" and, as he related to a few hundred people who came to buy his new book and hear him speak in Washington the other day, that means he applies the words in the Constitution as they were understood by the people who wrote and adopted them.
So Scalia parts company with former colleagues who have come to believe capital punishment is unconstitutional. The framers of the Constitution didn't think so and neither does he.
"The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state," Scalia said at the American Enterprise Institute.
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You can read the full write-up of Scalia's book signing here, including his latest denial of a rift among the court's more conservative justices over the high court's ruling on Obamacare.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.