Justice Scalia: The Constitution is ‘dead, dead, dead!’

Antonin Scalia

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

While guest-lecturing students at Southern Methodist University Law School Monday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may have shocked some in the audience when he was asked, “Is the Constitution a living document, one which evolves with the times?”

“It is not a living document; it is dead, dead, dead!” he said, according to MSNBC.

One paradox, from the standpoint of a Supreme Court justice, is that while his political views may continue to evolve, the Constitution must always remain rigid, resolute.

“The judge who always likes the results he reaches is a bad judge,” Scalia told the students.

Scalia, appointed to the Supreme Court by then-President Ronald Reagan, is regarded as one of the more conservative of its members. As such, his views have often been questioned. According to MSNBC:

In December of 2012, a gay Princeton student challenged Justice Scalia on his legal writings on homosexuality. The student asked Scalia to defend his legal comparison of the bans on sodomy to those on bestiality, murder and incest. “If we cannot have moral feelings against or objections to homosexuality, can we have it against anything?” Scalia said in response.

Scalia clarified that he was not equating sodomy with bestiality or murder, but was presenting parallels between the two bans.

Carrying this further, I equate the U.S. Constitution to a more ancient document — the Ten Commandments.

If the Ten Commandments were a living document, it would probably read something like this:

“Thou shalt not steal, except in the interest of ‘fairness.’”

“Thou shalt not kill — unless the bastard really had it coming.”

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife — unless, of course, she’s really, really hot and you’re both willing.”

See what I mean? All of a sudden rules are no longer rules — they’re suggestions.

The point is, if society is to remain strong and actually stand for something, it must have a core — a foundation — made of rock, not quicksand.

We may not always like an unbending Constitution, just like we may not always like a literal translation of the Ten Commandments. But we’ll always know what the hell it means. That’s why Scalia is right — “the Constitution is dead, dead, dead.”

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Mike has been with BizPac Review almost from the beginning. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeBPR.

  • KB Cook

    Some things are not up for "a new point of view." That's why they are called "laws." Every anti-constitutional elected representative in every venue (local, state & federal) of politics should either resign or be recalled. They have betrayed their oaths of office from the start!

  • seazen

    And, for sure, there should be no amendments to the Constitution because those dudes were like Moses or some other imaginary friend who had stuff etched into stone from the sky and the world has not changed since then. We should get rid of the amendments we already have because who cares about blacks, women, and other lesser beasts anyway. This country was created so that rich, white men with lots of guns can do whatever they want. Let's keep it that way!

    • john hagaman

      why is it that when someone says that these are the rules and are set in stone with changes only done by vote which our fore fathers laid out how to change the constitution the left brings up racism and bigitry equal rights these were not changed by presidential decree but by a system put in place by the forefathers

    • Jan

      Oh grow up seazen!

  • http://Bizpac Ted

    If the Constitution is "dead,dead, dead", like Justice Scalia said, what exactly is he doing? His job is to largely interpret the constitionality of laws and law briefs. He is also in a position to best defend the proposed application of the Constitution to the laws of the United States. It sounds like Justice Scalia has done his part in helping put this vital document in the ground. HIs consistently conservative interpretation of the core document to this country. The Citizens United decision is one of the most critical. Look at the effect on this last election. Billions of dollars, on both sides, spend to "buy" the election. Some heavy hitter billionaires (Koch, Adelson) lavishly showered cash on candidates that you could say were bought and paid for, not for the public good, but the private interest. They, I believe, were trying to buy this country back to the feudal system they had in Europe for hundreds of years. Is the Justice thinks the Constitution is dead, he has been pulling the plug. Just sayhing.

    • Jan

      Ted, your just sayin is JUST absurd!

  • Rich

    The constitution is dying. It is up to the American people to fight for what it represents and bring it back to life. We need to instill values and morals in our families and to take away the control of Washington by special interests. Our government should be of the people and by the people not corporations as the Supreme Court has so ordained. I know I have done my best and continue to do so. When it is my time to go and if I see our forefathers in that heavenly place I can look them straight in the eye.

  • Annie Marie Delgado

    I noticed the story was written "according to MSNBC". Well I don't believe of word of it…..

  • RUSerious

    It's really Scalia's brain that's dead dead dead, he's an insult to American justice.

    • judith

      Did you read. It says. "According to MSNBC:" i dont believe a word they say..

  • Dennis Lipp

    The PROGRESSIVES, a.k.a. Liberal Democrats, started interpreting the Constitution as a "Living Document" open to the "mood of the day" feelings of the Supreme Court starting with Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. The PROGRESSIVES have been out to change the meaning of the Constitution for a hundred years. I like Scalia's analogy to the Ten Commandments. The PROGRESSIVES would change the Ten Commandments to 7 Commandments and 3 Suggestions.

  • RonSr

    The Constitution of the United States of America is alive and well, one day not to far in the future Justice Scalia will die and our Constitution will live on and be better off after he is dead and gone, His name will be a pox on the lips of those who try to keep his memory alive.

  • http://mcbluefire.blogspot.com Marc

    The US Federal Government rules in Anarchy. They do not obey they laws thus Anarchy. True Anarchy is people living without government and is typically peaceful – like nature, with moments where injustice occur. Government in Anarchy is otherwise known as Tyranny and it is what exists today where peaceful people endure injustice at the hands of the ruling class. The Constitution is ignored and thus basically dead.

  • http://mcbluefire.blogspot.com Marc

    But lets not forget that the first President to put the Constitution on hold was a Republican. We are not protected by party any more than we are by a piece of paper.