Conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote a scathing dissent in this summer's landmark ruling striking down a key section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, told New York magazine that he's not a "hater of homosexuals."
Why? Because he has gay friends, of course. Not that those friends have actually come out to him.
"I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual," the senior-most Supreme Court justice told New York in a broad interview published Sunday. "Everybody does."
When New York reporter Jennifer Senior asked Scalia if any of those friends he suspected were gay had come out to him, he simply replied, "No. No. Not that I know of."
Scalia also spoke of his reputation as a strict originalist, meaning he believes the Constitution shouldn't be interpreted in light of modern issues, but should only be used as the founders intended it. While Scalia voted against the majority in the DOMA case, he ruled with the majority of more liberal justices on the other marriage equality case before the court this summer, which dismissed a challenge to California's Proposition 8 on a technicality, effectively restoring marriage equality to California.
Scalia's verdicts in both marriage equality cases this summer included strong language, referring to the majority rationale of the court in the DOMA case as legal "argle bargle," essentially rejecting the court's conclusion that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to recognize one set of legal marriages (opposite-sex) while denying the existence and equal treatment of others (same-sex).
This perspective clearly put Scalia in the minority on the court and, according to numerous public opinion polls, in the minority of Americans who believe that same-sex marriage is not legally equivalent to opposite-sex marriage. But Scalia is no stranger to standing in opposition, and isn't concerned with how history will portray him and his legacy.
"Frankly, I don't care," said Scalia when asked how the world would view his opinions in 50 years. "Maybe the world is spinning toward a wider acceptance of homosexual rights, and here’s Scalia, standing athwart it. At least standing athwart it as a constitutional entitlement. But I have never been custodian of my legacy. When I’m dead and gone, I’ll either be sublimely happy or terribly unhappy."
Scalia has been on somewhat of a publicity tour since the Supreme Court recessed in June, appearing at numerous conferences, universities, and in several interviews before the court's next session, which begins today. Last week he told a crowd at Tufts University in Massachusetts that he had not yet expressed his views on "gay marriage." In August he said the Supreme Court should not "invent new minorities," as he alleges it did with the DOMA decision. And in July he told a group of lawyers that federal judges were not qualified to legislate "homosexual sodomy."