Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is famed for his archconservative views and often-homophobic rhetoric, but he took it up a notch even for him Monday, saying the logic behind making LGBT people a protected minority could just as easily apply to child molesters.
Scalia, speaking to first-year law students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., said there is no constitutional basis for gay rights decisions made by the court, The New York Times reports. “What minorities deserve protection?” he asked. “What? It’s up to me to identify deserving minorities?”
Those decisions should be made by the people and their elected representatives, he said, not judges. He “allowed that the First Amendment protects political and religious minorities but suggested that there was no principled way for courts to make further distinctions based on the text of the Constitution,” the Times reports.
“What about pederasts?” he asked, with some sarcasm. “What about child abusers? So should I on the Supreme Court say this is a deserving minority. Nobody loves them. … No, if you believe in democracy, you should put it to the people.”
He also said, “The notion that everything you care a lot about has to be in the Constitution is a very dangerous notion,” The Washington Post reports. “It begins with stuff that we all agree upon … and at the bottom of that slope is same-sex marriage.”
There was some swift reaction to Scalia’s comments. New Republic blogger Jeet Heer called the remarks “breathtaking in their bigotry” and wrote, “Apparently you can be a Supreme Court justice without being able to understand the elementary distinction between consensual relationships between adults and heinous acts that by definition are coercive.”
In his dissents on Supreme Court decisions regarding LGBT rights, Scalia has often argued for the right of the people to assert opposition to homosexuality through discriminatory laws. In his dissent in 1996’s Romer v. Evans, which struck down an antigay Colorado ballot measure, he wrote that the measure was “a modest attempt by seemingly tolerant Coloradans to preserve traditional sexual mores against the efforts of a politically powerful minority to revise those mores through use of the laws.”
In 2003, in dissenting from the Lawrence v. Texas ruling, which invalidated antisodomy laws, he advocated for the rights of Americans who “do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home” because “they view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”
You can read more of Scalia’s greatest antigay hits here.