Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Monday that Supreme Court is making decisions that be dealt with by Congress or voters, saying the Court should avoid intervening on issues like wiretapping and “invent[ing] new minorities,” according to the Associated Press.
“It’s not up to the courts to invent new minorities that get special protections,” Scalia said to the audience at a Federalist Society event in Bozeman, Mt., presumably talking about the Court’s recent rulings on marriage equality.
When the Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act, which had prohibited married couples from receiving federal marriage benefits, Scalia wrote a scathing dissent, in which made a similar argument.
“We have no power to decide this case,” Scalia wrote. “And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation. The Court’s errors on both points spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America.”
Scalia also noted during Monday’s address to the Federalist Society that while changes were made to the Constitution to give greater civil rights to minorities and voting rights to women, that the court shouldn’t operate that way today, according to the AP’s account.
While Scalia says he opposes the Supreme Court overstepping its authority in some cases, his decision to sign onto the majority opinion in the Shelby County v. Holder case indicates he doesn’t have problems with judicial review.
In that decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts and agreed to by Scalia and others on the Court in a 5-4 vote, Scalia supported gutting the Voting Rights Act, suggesting that Congress needed to fix it again, even though Congress had renewed it as recently as 2006, a full decade earlier than the DOMA law.
Scalia has been general critical of minority protections in other instances this year. During arguments in the Shelby County v. Holder case, Scalia referred to the renewal of the Voting Rights Act as the “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
The issue of minority voting rights has come up repeatedly over the last few weeks as we approach the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders pushed for greater access to the ballot along with economic justice.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighed in last Monday in a speech to the American Bar Association, slamming the voter suppression efforts that have targeted some minority voters.
“Not every obstacle is related to race, but anyone who says that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention,” she said.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul joined the conversation too, refuting her by arguing that there has been no “objective evidence” of racial discrimination against voters on Wednesday.
“The interesting thing about voting patterns now is in this last election African-Americans voted at a higher percentage than whites in almost every one of the states that were under the special provisions of the federal government,” Paul said according to WFPL. “So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”
Rush Limbaugh echoed those remarks on his radio show Monday, talking about how Clinton is “playing racial politics” for pushing back against voter suppression.
“The idea here that there is still some effort out there to deny minorities the right to vote – if anything, there is an effort to count their votes more than once,” he said. “If anything, there is an effort to get people not even qualified to vote to vote. The idea that there’s an effort to squash minority voting is absurd.”
“It’s just the exact opposite, everybody’s pandering to them,” he added. “And the way the Democrats operate, they’re trying to see to it that minorities can vote multiple times.”