Justice Scalia gave an hour-long interview to C-Span last week. Judges on the supreme court hold a precedent for keeping their mouths shut ex curia--they're the legal counterpoints to the most chatty of Cathys. (and some justices don't talk in court either--here's lookin' at you, Justice Thomas!). So when one of them agrees to an hour long tete a tete, you can bet a number of people will be listening.
Most of the discussion was more benign than Mr. Bean's mole. But there were a few gems, both hilarious and depressing in nature (though mostly depressing, because the hilariousness often disintegrates with the realization that this man is one of the last defenses of your and my civil rights. It's like bringing a clown car to the monster truck rally--it's insanely humorous until the carny carnage interspersed with rubber noses and water corsages rapes the eyes.)
First of all, Scalia referred to his interview and press engagements for his newest book as his "coming out." It's doubtful, the hard-core Catholic that he is, that Scalia meant he's coming out in the usual sense of the term--the man is uber conservative. But it was funny nonetheless to hear talk about his "coming out" multiple times, without the merest of mere hesitations.
But listening to him talk about his children and grandchildren was where it got really depressing. (Warning: here comes the clown car and subsequent intellectual blood-bath). The man is clearly blessed in the effective sperm department, with nine children, and 28 grandchildren. When asked about his powers of copulation, his most reasoned answer was that as Catholics, he and his wife played "Vatican Roulette." (We might be unfamiliar with the game, but the odds are that it ends with a bullet in his wife's career either way.) Listening to Scalia talk about his children is a nice way to transport back into the Victorian era. You half expect him to interrupt and say he must dash--his chase and four has just pulled up to take him to the haberdashery.
Nine children. It sounds like he's angling to start up his own supreme court of kids; although with his views on affirmative action, he still needs four more (he has five sons and four daughters). Out of sympathy, he quickly lists his three daughters, and then philosophizes and gets really cander-ous when talking about all his son's livelihoods. His wife, too, was chained to the kitchen as he donned his big bilious robes--his daughters prove that his influence reins supreme: all four are "stay-at-home moms" as he lovingly put it, diligently "raising some of his grandchildren." He vaguely mentions something about one "having been a business woman," and another teaching German, and the last having a degree in library science (but not using it). He seems utterly pleased that they've stopped putting their brains to good use (whereas reason might argue he never started). Too bitter a sentiment for you, dear readers? Okay, a bit harsh, yes. But consider this next part of the interview:
When asked about the quality of lawyers that argue before the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia says the following:
"But more often, I am, I am startled by the fact that this young woman, who is a public defender from Podunk is so good, is so smart, and is so competent; and I ask myself, you know, what is she doing, being a public defender in Podunk--why isn't she out inventing the automobile, you know, doing something useful? Ah, I mean, I'm being sarcastic, I suppose."
First: Podunk--anybody know where that is? Either way, it's a small town of some sort in backwoods America that doesn't see much national press. Apparently, Scalia doesn't think everyone in America deserves a day in court, especially the poor.
Second: Methinks the startled surprise at seeing a well educated and bright woman argue her case caught him off guard, considering all the submissive docile women he must be used to at home. You would think after sitting on the bench next to some strong women, he'd have gotten a clue...but that's what happens when you're myopic.
Third: Umm, the automobile has already been invented. Plus engineering isn't very lady-like, is it?
Fourth: "Something Useful"??? Correct us if wrong, sir, but would that mean that your life's work, and decisions on the court are useless as well? Because we have no problem believing in their uselessness, but we do have a problem with believing that you feel that way!
Five: You're right, what is she doing? If you had it your way, the lack of affirmative action would never have allowed this woman into a good law program anyways.
Six: Is there something inherently time-wasting in being a public defender? Last time we checked,you were supposed to be defending the public as well--this woman just does it for much less money (she'd get paid less than you on average no matter what she does, thanks to her vagina, anyways). So who should be asking about the waste of their talent now?
Justice Scalia, do us all a favor, will you, and stop talking (and for that matter recuse yourself!) Just pretend every new case is a press interview about Bush v Gore--and keep repeating it's in the past and you don't need to rule on any of it!