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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