Looking back over the last five days at the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia has voted against health care, against marriage equality, against pollution limits, and for the death penalty. And on a certain level, that’s not at all unique – Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito voted the exact same way on the exact same cases.
But of the three far-right justices, Scalia was the only one whose prose made it seem as if he were auditioning to host a conservative radio talk show.
On health care, Scalia was in rare form, rhetorically and intellectually. On the former, he used bizarre phrases such as “interpretive jiggery-pokery” and “pure applesauce.” On the latter, the conservative justice ignored his own ACA assessment from three years ago, all the while dismissing legislative history, legislative intent, and context – at least in this case.
Scalia was even more furious a day later on marriage equality, taking gratuitous shots at Justice Anthony Kennedy’s writing style, and publishing the curious phrase, “Ask the nearest hippie.”
Today, on capital punishment, Scalia’s side prevailed, but as msnbc’s Irin Carmon noted, he decided to complain about marriage equality again, effectively dissenting on same-sex marriage “for a second time.”
“Last Friday, this court took away from the people the right to decide on same-sex marriage on the basis of their own policy preferences,” he said, taking a shot at Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer for suggesting in their written dissent to the case being announced that the death penalty is unconstitutional.It was, in other words, a dissent to a dissent. “Unlike opposite sex marriage” – Scalia apparently misspoke and meant same-sex marriage – “the death penalty is approved by the constitution,” the conservative justice said.
In the same concurring decision – which Scalia felt the need to read aloud this morning, just because he felt like it – went after Justice Stephen Breyer’s opposition to the death penalty, accusing him of rejecting the entire Enlightenment.
For good measure, Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick added that while there is no written summary of Scalia’s from-the-bench harangue this morning, it “deviated from his written concurrence in some really odd ways,” and the whole thing “was very odd.”
Finally, there’s the case on the EPA’s regulation of toxic pollutants, in which Scalia wrote the majority opinion against the environmental safeguards. The New Republic’s Rebecca Leber had a few concerns about Scalia’s often bizarre reasoning.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia compared the Environmental Protection Agency’s rulemaking to buying a Ferrari without looking at the price tag, and even claimed that a regulation that restricts mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants could hurt human health and the environment.
Stepping back, I stumbled upon an item I wrote about Scalia a while ago. I wrote, “Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, once a highly respected jurist, has seen his reputation as a credible conservative voice falter of late. His Holocaust references; his over-the-top dissent in the DOMA case; his political antics that appear to be an audition for a slot on ‘Fox & Friends’ – it’s all been a bit much. Last year, a constitutional law professor at UCLA said the conservative justice has ‘finally jumped the shark,’ and yet, Scalia somehow still manages to get more offensive.”
That was October 2013. It’s not unreasonable to think Scalia has descended further into absurdity in the nearly two years since.