Justice Scalia Defends Comparing Sodomy to Murder

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 11 2012 10:46 AM

Scalia Defends Comparing Sodomy to Murder

52064127
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at the fifth annual Ava Maria School of Law lecture Jan. 25, 2005 on the University of Michigan campus

Photograph by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia traveled to Princeton yesterday as part of his ongoing book tour. While there he took some heat from a student about his comments comparing laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder. The justice responded by saying that such comparisons weren't necessary but they were "effective," the Associated Press reports:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

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

Scalia was asked by a gay student why he equates laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder.
"It's a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the 'reduction to the absurd,'" Scalia told [freshman Duncan] Hosie of San Francisco during the question-and-answer period. "If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?"
Scalia said he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both.
Advertisement

Scalia's comments are particularly noteworthy given they come only days after the high court announced that it would consider two cases challenging the constitutionality of bans on gay marriage.

During a similar appearance at a D.C. think tank back in October, Scalia spoke about how he considers himself to be a "textualist," meaning that he applies the words in the Constitution as he believes they would have been understood by those who wrote and adopted them. "The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion," he said then. "Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state."

According to the AP report from yesterday, Scalia's back-and-forth with the freshman drew a mixed reaction from the crowd, with some some applauding after the justice's remarks but a larger slice of the audience clapping in response to Hosie's original question pressing Scalia on his stance.

Elsewhere in Slate, Amanda Marcotte weighs in on Scalia's remarks. A snippet:

Scalia's version of morality leaves a lot to be desired. We can probably come up with a better system than randomly picking a bunch of acts—same-sex relations, murder, giving coffee drinks funny names—and declaring these things immoral on the grounds that something has to be immoral.  There's got to be a more rigorous way of wading through legal questions than just throwing darts against a wall, and when the darts hit the words "murder" and "sodomy," figuring hey, let's ban both.

You can read her full XX Factor post here.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.