Scalia’s Charm Offensive

Justice Antonin Scalia may have charmed the robes off his colleagues and 60 Minutes, but he was not truthful in explaining his position on abortion. He said,

You think there ought to be a right to abortion? No problem. The Constitution says nothing about it. Create it the way most rights are created in a democratic society. Pass a law.

In a freakishly identical sentence structure, in 2002 Scalia said this about individual freedom at the end-of-life,

“You want the right to die,” Justice Scalia said, according to The Oregonian, the daily here. “The Constitution said nothing about it.” When audience members pointed out that the voters had backed the law twice, he said: “That’s right and that’s fine. You don’t hear me complaining about Oregon’s law.”

After saying those charming and ecouraging words, Scalia in 2006 was on the wrong side of a 6-3 decision when the Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s Death with Dignity Law.

That undercuts his contention that his personal views have nothing to do with his rulings, thus making his claims of being an “originalist”, of abhoring judicial activism, and his charm offensive, just plain offensive.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

  • invalid-0

    Funny, Scalia also said in the 60 Minutes interview that he was afraid he was beginning to repeat himself in his briefs, at least he got that right. The quotes are striking. I guess that says something about the circular logic of the conservative judicial activism in general, based less on the law or what the framers intended and more on imposing their will on others.

  • amanda-marcotte

    I’m so grateful that sites like this are telling the story that the mainstream media doesn’t.  You’d think the way people treat Scalia that he was some intellectually astute if strange dude.  On the contrary, he’s an ideological hack uninterested in the facts or even precedent or his own stated beliefs. 

  • invalid-0

    Let me share an insight with the rest of you: Supreme Court decisions can’t merely be compared on the basis of their result. Scalia’s reasoning in the Oregon case was based on Federal law. His reasoning went like this: The Constitution says nothing about euthanasia or assisted dying. Therefore, the states and the federal government are free to legislate on it. It just happens that in a federal system like the US, federal law trumps state law. The majority reasoned that the Constitution does protect the interests the Oregon law instated. Scalia’s reasoning is not at all inconsistent with his reasoning regarding abortion. If there were no Federal law regarding assisted dying then he would not have voted in the minority.

    Please, next time you comment on Constitutional matters, please do a bit of research before you embarrass yourself.

  • scott-swenson

    Dear Anonymous,

    So if Scalia says that people who want abortion to be legal should have to pass a state law, then when people do pass a state law on Death with Dignity (twice) he votes to overturn the will of the people, how is that consistent?

    The consistency here has nothing to do with a federal law, it has to do with claims to state’s rights, the basis upon which many social conservatives want to overturn Roe. Yet, when confronted with a state that exerts its rights, conservative judicial activists attempting to legislate from the bench, vote to overturn it.

    If that’s consistency, I’m embarrassed.


    And here from arodb at Daily Kos, is another take on the same argument.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor