Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed the notion of the U.S. Constitution as a “living document” that changes with the times, instead describing the bedrock of American law as “dead, dead, dead, dead” in advance of major decisions about marriage equality.
Scalia spoke Monday at Princeton University in New Jersey, where gay freshman Duncan Hosie asked about his dissent in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, in which he compared laws that ban sodomy to those prohibiting bestiality and murder. The question received more applause than Scalia’s speech, according to the Associated Press.
"I don't think it's necessary, but I think it's effective," said Scalia of the bans. He said that he was not equating sodomy with murder, but rather drawing a parallel between the prohibitions on both acts.
"It's a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the 'reduction to the absurd,'" he told Hosie, who is from San Francisco. "If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?"
Scalia answered questions following a lecture to promote his new book, Reading Law. As for the law, Scalia said the Constitution was already “flexible” enough, in his view.
"My Constitution is a very flexible one," he said. "There's nothing in there about abortion. It's up to the citizens. ... The same with the death penalty."
"It isn't a living document," he said. "It's dead, dead, dead, dead."
The comments from Scalia, who has previously been outspoken in public venues, arrive days after the Supreme Court announced it would hear challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, the California marriage ban. Advocates of marriage equality have expressed optimism the high court could rule for a federal constitutional right to marry in the latter case.