Supreme Court showdown expected over DOMA and Prop. 8 decisions – latimes.com

WASHINGTON — For more than two decades, the defining battles within the Supreme Court over social and moral controversies have been fought between two devout Catholics appointed by President Reagan.

Justice Antonin Scalia believes the law can and should enforce moral standards, including criminal bans on abortion and on “homosexual conduct” that many “believe to be immoral and destructive.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is a libertarian conservative who believes the Constitution protects the freedom of individuals to “make personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing and education.”

FULL COVERAGE: The battle over gay marriage 

Now the ideological fight between the conservative giants is set for another round. The two 76-year-olds are to some extent likely to be on opposite sides when the court meets in the spring to decide whether the government can refuse marriage and federal benefits to gays and lesbians.

The two have much in common. Born in 1936, they graduated from high school in the early 1950s and excelled at Harvard Law School, where they were a year apart. They were Republicans who rose through the legal ranks. When appointed to the court, both bought homes in McLean, Va.

They agree on much. Both voted to strike down President Obama‘s healthcare law as an overreach by the government. Scalia joined Kennedy’s majority opinion in the Citizens United case that freed corporate and union spending on political ads.

But Kennedy, the libertarian, and Scalia, the social conservative, clash fiercely over the court’s role in deciding moral controversies.

The two split 20 years ago when the court’s conservative bloc was poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the ruling that legalized abortion. Though personally opposed to abortion, Kennedy switched sides in spring 1992 and cast a crucial vote to uphold a woman’s right to choose. “Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code,” Kennedy wrote.

In the past, Scalia has accused Kennedy of having “signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.” Scalia is likely to have the votes of fellow conservatives Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and probably Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to uphold state and federal laws that exclude gays from marriage.

But Kennedy has the much stronger hand. He ranks third in seniority after the chief justice and Scalia, and he has four liberal justices on his left. Because the senior member of the majority decides who writes the opinion, Kennedy could decide who writes the opinions if he votes with the liberals. And he could take the assignment for himself..”

FULL COVERAGE: The battle over gay marriage

Now the ideological fight between the conservative giants is set for another round. The two 76-year-olds are to some extent likely to be on opposite sides when the court meets in the spring to decide whether the government can refuse marriage and federal benefits to gays and lesbians.

The two have%2

via Supreme Court showdown expected over DOMA and Prop. 8 decisions – latimes.com.

Related Images:

Scalia defends opposition to gay rights in response to question at Princeton – The Daily Princetonian

 

On the heels of the announcement that the Supreme Court will hear two cases regarding gay marriage, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia defended some of his more controversial decisions concerning gay rights in a lecture Monday afternoon.

Scalia came to campus to discuss his recent book and share his thoughts on interpreting the Constitution. Scalia, the longest-serving justice on the current Court, has been described as the intellectual anchor of the Court’s conservative wing.

When questioned by Duncan Hosie ’16, who identified as gay, on his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas — which struck down a Texas anti-sodomy law — Scalia stood behind his decision. Hosie questioned Scalia’s comparison between having a moral objection to sodomy and having a moral objection toward things like bestiality or murder. Scalia defended his comparison as a form of argument.

“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against these other things?” Scalia asked, explaining his dissent. “It’s a reduction to the absurd … I don’t think it’s necessary but I think it’s effective,” Scalia said, adding dryly, “I’m surprised you weren’t persuaded.”

Born in nearby Trenton, N.J., Scalia applied, but was not accepted, to Princeton. He instead attended Georgetown where he graduated summa cum laude as valedictorian in 1957. He later graduated from Harvard Law School.

Scalia was notably plain-spoken during both the lecture and the Q-and-A.

“For those of you who have been to some of our previous lectures, you’ll notice it was a little different this time,” said politics professor Robert George, the campus conservative leader who introduced Scalia and offered closing remarks.

Scalia declined to discuss issues related to active cases or potential future cases during the Q-and-A, instead directing the conversation back to the general arguments he made during the lecture.

During his lecture, he defended his view that focusing on the text and the original meaning of the Constitution are the best interpretive measures to protect the Constitution and democratic ideals.

“The text is what governs,” said Scalia, explaining that it would be wrong to bring in the historical circumstances at the time of the Constitution’s signing or to attempt to interpret the intent of those who wrote the document.

“I don’t care what their intent was. We are a government of laws, not of men,” he explained.

Scalia defends opposition to gay rights in response to question at Princeton – The Daily Princetonian.