Friday, October 9, 2009

Who says Supreme Court Justices need to be unbiased?

I always thought the nomination of Supreme Court Justices was supposed to be based on a record of fairness, clarity and intellect, and that they were lifetime appointments so that the partisanship of culture and politics would not color or sway their rulings.

Unfortunately, we aren't lucky enough to have a full nine justices meet those standards. One of them (at least) is an outright bigot and ignorant bastard. Check out this exchange over the perceived meaning of a cross:

Judge: The cross doesn't honor non-Christians who fought in the war?

Lawyer: A cross is the predominant symbol of Christianity, and it signifies that Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem mankind for our sins.

Judge: It's erected as a war memorial! I assume it is erected in honor of all the war dead. The cross is the most common symbol of . . . of . . . of the resting place of the dead.

Lawyer: The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of Christians. I have been in Jewish cemetaries. There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew.

Judge: I don't think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead the cross honors are the Christian war dead. I think that's an outrageous conclusion!

Now, that's one confused and bigoted judge. Seriously, he seems unconcerned that the symbol he's claiming represents "all war dead" is a specific religious icon of a specific faith group. It's like claiming that no one should mind if he refers to all soft drinks as "Cokes", not even the Pepsi people. Or that the McDonald's golden arches are a symbol of all fast food restaurants, and ignoring the outcries of dismay from the Burger King's and Dairy Queen's of the world.

If this was some hick country judge from a century ago, presiding over some menial court case in the backwoods of the Ozarks, I probably wouldn't mind too much. Clearly, in such a situation, the judge's comments would be buried in the onslaught of history and never see any higher illumination than a few brief seconds in his own tiny community.

Unfortunately, the brilliant jurist and profound pundit who spouted such inanity was none other than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Yup -- one of the nine most important people in the nation, who are tasked with determining the constitutionality of law, the judicious application of fairness, and the blind eye of justice. There have been many claims that the Justices appointed by Clinton (and now Obama) are, or will be in the future, "activist".

I'm sorry -- let me clean out my ears. I must have missed the massive hue and cry from the religious right as Justice Scalia just shat on the idea of equality under the law and separation of church and state.

I'm sure Justice Scalia wouldn't mind, since the clear intention (not!) of the cross is simply to honor the dead and not single out any particular sect, if upon his gravestone we emblazon the Islamic Crescent -- after all, it's simply a symbol of recognition and honor to one who has served his nation well. Right?

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