Justice Scalia rejects Constitution


Richard Moore



  Scalia Says Religion Infuses U.S. Government and History
 By Vera Dobnik
 The Associated Press

 Monday 22 November 2004

New York - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said
Monday that a religion-neutral government does not fit with an
America that reflects belief in God in everything from its
money to its military.

"I suggest that our jurisprudence should comport with our
actions," Scalia told an audience attending an interfaith
conference on religious freedom at Manhattan's Shearith Israel

An outspoken conservative, Scalia joined a gathering that
included the chief judge of New York state, Judith Kaye, a
member of this Orthodox synagogue where the late Supreme Court
Justice Benjamin Cardozo had worshipped.

The discussion in the century-old edifice was lively.

"I have spent many private hours with Justice Scalia - in
print," said Kaye, who has led New York's highest court for
almost a dozen years since she was appointed by Gov. Mario
Cuomo, a liberal Democrat.

Scalia, 68, addressed the topic of government and its
relationship to religion.

In the synagogue that is home to America's oldest Jewish
congregation, he noted that in Europe, religion-neutral
leaders almost never publicly use the word "God."

But, the justice asked, "Did it turn out that, by reason of
the separation of church and state, the Jews were safer in
Europe than they were in the United States of America? I don't
think so."

Also participating in the three-hour session was Shearith
Israel's senior rabbi, Marc Angel, as well as prominent
members of New York's Protestant, Roman Catholic and Muslim
clergy. Speakers included the Rev. James Forbes Jr. of
Riverside Church, the Rev. Arthur Caliandro of the Marble
Collegiate Church and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the
New York-based American Sufi Muslim Association, whose aim is
to foster an American-Muslim identity.

Scalia told them that while the church-and-state battle rages,
the official examples of the presence of faith go back to
America's Founding Fathers: the word "God" on U.S. currency;
chaplains of various faiths in the military and the
legislature; real estate tax-exemption for houses of worship -
and the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Last year, Scalia removed himself from the Supreme Court's
review of whether "under God" should be in the Pledge of
Allegiance, after mentioning the case in a speech and
complaining that courts are stripping God from public life.

"None of this is compatible with what we say when we express
the so-called principle of neutrality," Scalia said.

He could be tapped as a possible nominee for chief justice
should Chief Justice William Rehnquist step down because of
his thyroid cancer.

Scalia was named to the Supreme Court in 1986 by President

Since then, Scalia - a Catholic raised in Queens and father of
nine children, one a priest - has become an anti-abortion hero
to many in the American political right and a leading
conservative voice on the court.

An "originalist," Scalia believes in following the
Constitution as written by the Founding Fathers, rather than
interpreting it to reflect the changing times.

"Our Constitution does not morph," he said Monday,
deadpanning, "As I've often said, I am an originalist, I am a
textualist, but I am not a nut."

Earlier this year, Scalia cast one of two dissenting votes in
a 7-2 Supreme Court ruling that states may deny
taxpayer-funded scholarships to divinity students.

At the time, Scalia wrote: "Let there be no doubt: This case
is about discrimination against a religious minority."

© Copyright 2004 by TruthOut.org

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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

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