Justice Scalia Defends Torture

If you've forgotten what happens when Republican Presidents appoint Supreme Court Justices, and why it's so important we not elect another one in November, check out this BBC interview with Justice Anton Scalia.

In a wide-ranging discussion, he defends his often controversial positions on issues like Guantanamo Bay, argues that torture may be legal and attacks the "sick" practice of televising trials.

...Justice Scalia says that it is far from clear that torture is unconstitutional and says that it may be legal to "smack [a suspect] in the face" if the suspect is concealing information which could endanger the public.

On abortion and the death penalty:

He says there is nothing in the Constitution that grants women the right to an abortion.

The death penalty, he argues, is not covered by the 8th Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment."

John McCain promises to appoint more judges in the mold of Scalia, Roberts and Alito. We get the Government we elect.

< Federal Judge Tosses Ghost Air Lawsuit | Senate Ethics Committee Reprimands Larry Craig >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    its ok to (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Jen M on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 06:12:29 AM EST
    'smack somebody in the face' to make him talk?

    what is that first line of the Miranda warning again?

    Miranda ain't gonna be around.... (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:04:14 AM EST
    much longer I'm afraid.  One of the times I was arrested I wasn't advised of my Miranda rights, my public defender said "it doesn't matter."

    Miranda is from a bygone era time when individual liberty was something we valued.  It's days are numbered.


    justice scalia (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by cpinva on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 07:25:32 AM EST
    is an arrogant whackjob, always has been, always will be. define "original intent" jarober, since no contemporaneous minutes of the constitutional convention exist. my definition is just as legitimate as justice scalia's.

    there most certainly is a right to choice embedded in the constitution; it's called "privacy". it's found in multiple amendments, starting with #1. that justice scalia, and you, refuse to acknowledge that shows a willful ignorance on both your parts.

    I just hope (none / 0) (#1)
    by zyx on Wed Feb 13, 2008 at 10:32:04 PM EST
    I live long enough to see a time when that man is no longer on the court.  If he retires, I'll cheer, and if he dies, I'll DANCE.

    I'm not kidding.

    But if Liberals do the same... (none / 0) (#2)
    by SandyK on Wed Feb 13, 2008 at 10:34:05 PM EST
    by electing just as radical judges, they're not any better. It'll just cause the Right to come back and try to undo it all over again.

    Moderation is the key to success, because if folks can't take a moderate approach, they are extreme.

    Scalia (none / 0) (#3)
    by OldCoastie on Wed Feb 13, 2008 at 10:40:39 PM EST
    sounds like he has "slipped his noodle".

    To be fair (none / 0) (#4)
    by shoeshinesal on Wed Feb 13, 2008 at 10:46:17 PM EST
    John McCain wouldn't defend torture.  But the point about SC nominations stands and it's something to be concerned about.

    Antonin Scalia is as repulsive an ideologue as they come.  McCain might not appoint torture supporters, but I'm sure he wouldn't shy away from considering some scary geezers.

    Again, maybe he should read the constitution (none / 0) (#6)
    by Nowonmai on Wed Feb 13, 2008 at 11:50:57 PM EST
    He says there is nothing in the Constitution that grants women the right to an abortion.

    Yeah, and there used to be no mention about allowing women to vote, or declaring slavery illegal. Times change, amendments and new laws are written. You don't like abortion, don't have one. Leave it safe and legal for those who do.

    The death penalty, he argues, is not covered by the 8th Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment."

    In this same vein, what amendment says anything about putting people to death isn't? And if choking someone to death by toxic gas, or electrocution isn't cruel and unusual punishment, really need to redefine what is cruel. Lethal Injection isn't always painless, as it has been recorded as being wrongly administered, even having one convict chanting during his execution "It's not working, it's not working."

    "The essential predicate is that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity,"  (like torture)

    No ambiguity there.

    What those on the Left misunderstand... (none / 0) (#7)
    by SandyK on Wed Feb 13, 2008 at 11:56:35 PM EST
    is that even folks who aren't religious, take a stand against abortion. It's for many issues, some dislike the slippery slope of anyone having the right to end life, to more private personal beliefs.

    This issue has become so polarized that the extremes can't and won't see the differences, nor acknowledge that those differences have merit. There's really no right or wrong answer in this abortion issue, as it's a personal one.

    What's not needed is the abortions, but to prevent the situation in the first place. A lot of excuses are made for the freedom to do as one pleases, but there are consequences for that mindset. Ending life because someone can do anything they please, is the insulting part.

    Society itself has to come to terms with one hand proclaiming so many freedoms, but not wanting to take responsibility for them. That's how this situation begins (because incest and rape are a very small part of the statistics, so that's not a crutch), where it's considered an option as easy as taking out the trash.

    Until the poles can see how each is fighting more than if it's fetus or baby, or individual personhood, this will never be resolved. And it's sad that it'll be used as a political football by those who wish that true.

    Abortion and the Death Penalty... (none / 0) (#9)
    by jarober on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 05:39:29 AM EST
    I think you'll have a hard time locating a right to abortion in the text of the Constitution.  That says nothing about whether it should or should not be allowed, but it says something about the appropriate level of government for any decision to be made.  

    As to the death penalty, he's going on original intent.  On that basis, you would have a very hard time arguing that the death penalty violates the 8th amendment, given standard practice circa the 1790's.

    elections (none / 0) (#12)
    by diogenes on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 09:59:45 AM EST
    Go ahead and elect legislators who ban torture and the death penalty and approve abortion.  Problem solved.

    Scalia is an embarrassment - A Dangerous one (none / 0) (#14)
    by Joike on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:36:03 AM EST
    Scalia strikes me as an arrogant jerk.  I guess that can happen to a person if they're given a lifetime appointment to one of the most powerful positions in the country where everybody else has to suck up to you and you are not accountable to anyone.

    His reasoning is faulty and shows a disdain for both the reality of torture and an ignorance of kind of "intelligence" torture produces.

    He seems to live in some torture fantasyland where torture is limited to just a bit of rough housing between the questioner and the detainee.

    What's a little smack in the face between friends?

    His proof that torture works at all?  Those episodes of 24 where Jack Bauer saved all those people by getting the terrorist to give up the information.

    I also appreciate his utter disdain for people who might think otherwise.  In his view, if you can come up with just one rationalization for torture (mussin' a guy's hair a little), then you've totally destroyed any counter-argument to torture.  It's all good.  All evidence to the contrary.

    Bush and his cronies like to claim that these "enhanced techniques" have saved American lives, but conveniently never tell us how or when.  Hey, we just have to trust them.  I sure wish I had Bush's power to look into a person's sould through their eyes.  That would make this trust thing a lot simpler.

    Scalia is exhibit A why this election matters.  If McCain wants to appoint more Scalias, then we have to do what it takes to elect the eventual Democratic nominee.

    reprinted by TL above does not, imo, accurately reflect what he actually said:
    To begin with, the Constitution refers to cruel and unusual punishment. It is referring to punishment for crime.

    For example, incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly  be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime, but a court can do that when a witness refuses to answer ... as a means of coercing the witness to answer, as the witness should. And I suppose it's the same thing about so-called torture.

    Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to find out where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited by the Constitution?

    It would be absurd to say you couldn't do that. And once you acknowledge that, we're into a different game. How close does the threat have to be? And how severe can the infliction of pain be?"

    Democrats have helped to install Roberts and Alito (none / 0) (#16)
    by Andreas on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 05:40:52 AM EST
    John McCain promises to appoint more judges in the mold of Scalia, Roberts and Alito. We get the Government we elect.

    The Democrats have helped to install Roberts, Alito and Mukasey:

    Senate hearings on Mukasey nomination
    Democrats prepare to install defender of torture, illegal spying as attorney general

    By Bill Van Auken, 20 October 2007

    The Democrats and Alito's Supreme Court confirmation
    By Joe Kay, 27 January 2006

    Democrats cave on reactionary chief justice: Senate panel rubberstamps Roberts nomination
    By Patrick Martin, 23 September 2005