Justice Scalia discusses gays and the law

September 28, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently gave a speech at the historically Catholic Duquesne University School of Law.  According to this article at Think Progress Justice, “Justice Antonin Scalia urged the university not to stray from a religious identity hostile to gay and lesbian students.”   That fact that Justice Scalia was recently irked by the the topic of gays reminded me of a talk he gave in St. Louis about three years ago (to the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis) where he displayed a condescending tone while mentioning gays and the law on several occasions during a single speech.

Back when I heard his St. Louis speech, it seemed to me that Justice Scalia merely had an ax to grind based on his belief that gays don’t have a protected place in the law under his pet theory of “originalism.”  This Think Progress article reminded me of his tone at the St. Louis lecture three years ago.   The comments to the Think Progress article repeatedly returned to the topic of reaction formations.  Perhaps that is unfair, because I’m sure he discusses other topics at his many lectures. There is also a fascinating literature suggesting that conservatives are susceptible to inviting disgust into their moral arsenal (and see here).  On the other hand, Scalia is one of many conservatives out there who burn considerable frustrated energy on this topic, tempting me to do some arm chair psychoanalysis. And I must say that his tone at the St. Louis lecture was permeated with condescension, arguably disgust. I would normally think armchair psychology to be inappropriate except that it seems so utterly invited in this case. Further, Scalia’s long slow burn on this topic might well be invading his analysis of the law. And he is a very powerful man, apparently with many years yet to serve on the Supreme Court bench.


Category: Bigotry, Law

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    “In socially conservative circles, sex is seen as illicit behavior at best, and criminally perverse at worst. The liberal model that imagines sex as a fun, life-affirming way to spend your time simply doesn’t compute. When you think of sex in terms of subversion and criminality, gay sex looms large in your imagination as the filthiest, most sexy-sex there is. Social conservatives simply can’t get past the images in their minds of dudes sticking it to one another, and it completely skews their ability to think logically and fairly about extending basic human rights to gay people.

    While right-wing pundits speaking to a national audience have learned to temper their remarks about homosexuality and try to steer the conversation away from opportunities to say ignorant things about gay people’s sex lives, the religious leaders and more underground right-wing media is still singing the same song.”


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