Jan 4th 2016

Scalia's Views on Religious Neutrality Reveal He Is Neutral on Sanity

by Jeff Schweitzer

Jeff Schweitzer is a scientist and former White House Senior Policy Analyst; Ph.D. in marine biology/neurophysiology

Speaking at a Catholic high school in New Orleans recently, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that there is "no place" in the country's constitutional traditions for the idea that the state must be neutral between religion and its absence."To tell you the truth there is no place for that in our constitutional tradition. Where did that come from? To be sure, you can't favor one denomination over another but can't favor religion over non-religion?"

This question is astonishing on many levels, but mostly because it exposes a gross ignorance unbecoming a justice of the Supreme Court. The right not to believe is no less protected by our Constitution than the right to believe in any particular god. If the government cannot favor one religion over another, it cannot favor belief over rationalism. Doing so obviously is in direct violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What part of "establishment of religion" does Scalia not understand? The wording does not discuss the dominance of one religion over another, but the very establishment of any religion.

But Scalia was not done shredding our founding document. He also said in New Orleans that there is "nothing wrong" with the idea of presidents and others invoking God in speeches. "God has been good to America because Americans have honored him." Really? He can interpret god's motivations? He misses the obvious that Iranians believe that Allah has been good to Iran because Iranians have honored Allah. Hindus believe their many gods have blessed India because they have honored their many gods. How is their belief more or less valid than Scalia's about who god favors and why? Is Scalia any different than a televangelist who says we have an earthquake or flood because god is unhappy with gay marriage or Roe v Wade?

With these utterances Scalia is continuing his history of religious extremism. His radicalism seeps out in strange ways. In one case decided in 2010 (Salazar v. Buono) Scalia said he was simply baffled that a Christian cross could be construed to represent Christianity. The case in question is a bit convoluted, but the details are important. A seven-foot cross was erected on Sunrise Rock in 1934 on government-owned land in the Mojave Desert to honor fallen veterans. The metal display has been repaired and replaced many times since, with the latest renovation completed in 1998. A former National Park Service employee, Frank Buono, sued to have the cross removed as an offensive symbol to all non-Christian soldiers and their surviving families. In response to this challenge, Congress offered yet another violation of the Establishment Clause by using sleazy slight-of-hand to circumvent the Constitution. Congress sold a little plot of land on which the cross rests to a veterans group, thereby claiming that the cross no longer stood on federal property. But the transparent ploy of gutting the Constitution by creating an island of private property surrounding by a National Park did not fool the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which ruled the cross had to come down. Our largely Catholic Supreme Court then decided to hear the case.

Justice Scalia explained that he agreed to put this case on the court docket because he was simply baffled that a Christian cross could be construed to represent Christianity. He was puzzled that a cross was not broadly representative of Islam, Judaism or no religion at all. Take a moment and ponder that. His assertion that the cross represents everybody is extraordinarily bizarre, defying even the most basic elements of decency. How horribly offensive to every non-Christian to be told that the cross is a universal symbol representative of all religions. Our Founding Fathers are spinning furiously in their graves right now.

Scalia's views are precisely what our forefathers feared so terribly and worked so diligently to avoid. In addition to ignoring our Bill of Rights, Scalia has abandoned any pretense of logic to support his faith. To demonstrate how terribly sick Scalia's thoughts are, he asked the ridiculous question, "What would you have them erect? Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Muslim half moon and star?" Notice that Scalia did not offer the obvious and imminently more reasonable alternative of erecting the Crescent of Islam in place of the cross. He only suggested the absurd notion of a chimera. He is so utterly blinded by his faith that he could not imagine that anything other than a cross could serve to honor our soldiers. Would Scalia himself allow a Star of David on his grave? If a Christian would not select a Star of David then why on earth would a Jew choose a cross? Yet that is exactly what Scalia proposes. The notion that the cross represents everybody is extraordinarily bizarre, defying even the most basic elements of decency. The idea that the Constitution favors religion or non-religion is downright terrifying.

Scalia sometimes describes himself as a "textualist" interpreter of the Constitution, meaning he divines the meaning of the words in the Constitution as the framers did in writing them. He channels into the minds of Jefferson and Adams; really how else would he have any greater insight into the meaning of those words than any other legal scholar? Actually he is a "spiritualist" interpreter of our founding document, the Carnac of the Supreme Court. Only Scalia knows what the founders really meant; only he can interpret the words accurately, even though he apparently has trouble interpreting his own. In any case, he said that as a textualist his job was easy. "The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state." (In what was to become a pattern, he skipped the issue of heterosexual sodomy, which is also illegal in many of those same states). For a brilliant scholar it is impressive to cram into one sentence so much inanity. Notice that he dismisses any discussion in repealing the death sentence by stating that nothing in the Constitution prevents it. By that logic anything not specifically prohibited is allowed. Well that is exactly true of sodomy as well -- nowhere in the Constitution is sodomy prohibited. By his own logic, just provided to justify his position on the death penalty, requires that he must too support sodomy. But instead of being consistent, he shifts his argument to the states, citing precedent. And that is rich, because no other Justice in modern history has had such disdain for "stare decisis." Scalia cites precedent when it suits his purpose, and rudely dismissed previous rulings when they become inconvenient. Even richer is his appeal to states' rights (implied in his argument) given his willingness to trample over Florida's rights in anointing Bush to the presidency.

For someone supposedly with a keen intellect, Scalia's mind has become a nightmarish olio of jumbled principles packaged with arrogant certainty, which is an extraordinarily dangerous combination. No Justice has been more inconsistent in legal outlook. He is an activist judge who decries judicial activism. He is a strict constructionist who willingly flaunts the will and intent of our founders. He is, in the end, an embarrassment to the history of the Supreme Court. His judicial record is a train wreck, derailing logic and decency. With apologies to Churchill, never has one man done so much to harm so many. In a TV interview, Scalia described his job thusly: "I'm in charge of making the Constitution come out right all the time." By his own criterion, he is a complete, utter failure. He is the epitome of everything that a Justice on the Supreme Court should not be; he is an abomination.





Dr. Jeff Schweitzer
 is a marine biologist, consultant and internationally recognized authority in ethics, conservation and development. He is the author of five books including Calorie Wars: Fat, Fact and Fiction (July 2011), and A New Moral Code (2010). Dr. Schweitzer has spoken at numerous international conferences in Asia, Russia, Europe and the United States.Dr. Schweitzer's work is based on his desire to introduce a stronger set of ethics into American efforts to improve the human condition worldwide. He has been instrumental in designing programs that demonstrate how third world development and protecting our resources are compatible goals. His vision is to inspire a framework that ensures that humans can grow and prosper indefinitely in a healthy environment.Formerly, Dr. Schweitzer served as an Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy under former President Clinton. Prior to that, Dr. Schweitzer served as the Chief Environmental Officer at the State Department's Agency for International Development. In that role, he founded the multi-agency International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program, a U.S. Government that promoted conservation through rational economic use of natural resources.Dr. Schweitzer began his scientific career in the field of marine biology. He earned his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. He expanded his research at the Center for Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine. While at U.C. Irvine he was awarded the Science, Engineering and Diplomacy Fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.Dr. Schweitzer is a pilot and he founded and edited the Malibu Mirage, an aviation magazine dedicated to pilots flying these single-engine airplanes. He and his wife Sally are avid SCUBA divers and they travel widely to see new wildlife, never far from their roots as marine scientists..To learn more about Dr Schweitzer, visit his website at http://www.JeffSchweitzer.com
.

To follow Jeff Schweizer on Twitter, please click here.

For Jeff Schweitzer web site, please click here.

Below link to Amazon for Jeff Schweitzer's latest book.


TO FOLLOW WHAT'S NEW ON FACTS & ARTS, PLEASE CLICK HERE!





 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Essays

Sep 16th 2021
EXTRACTS: "Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised chamber. In the chamber, the air pressure is increased two to three times higher than normal air pressure. It is commonly used to treat decompression sickness (a condition scuba divers can suffer from), carbon monoxide poisoning,......" ---- "Blood flow to the brain is reduced in people with Alzheimer’s. This study showed increased blood flow to the brain in the mice receiving oxygen therapy, which helps with the clearance of plaques from the brain, and reduces inflammation – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s." ----- "The researchers then used these findings to assess the effectiveness of oxygen therapy in six people over the age of 65 with cognitive decline. They found that 60 sessions of oxygen therapy, over 90 days, increased blood flow in certain areas of the brain and significantly improved the patients’ cognitive abilities – improved memory, attention and information processing speed."
Sep 14th 2021
EXTRACT: "Hollywood for years called on Charles Boyer to typify one French look –  bedroom eyes, sly maneuverings, the dismissive look. A face of another type, the massive mug and narrow eyes of Charles de Gaulle, provides the same disdain of the foreigner but also a superiority based on his belief in his own destiny."
Sep 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "The burden of loneliness for older people is intimately connected to what they are alone with. As we reach the end of our lives, we frequently carry heavy burdens that have accumulated along the way, such as feelings of regret, betrayal and rejection. And the wounds from past relationships can haunt people all their lives."
Sep 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Gardens help restore the ability to concentrate on demanding tasks, providing the perfect space for a break when working from home in a pandemic. Natural things – such as trees, plants and water – are particularly easy on the eye and demand little mental effort to look at. Simply sitting in a garden is therefore relaxing and beneficial to mental wellbeing."
Aug 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "Whether or not a person achieves remission, reducing blood sugar levels is important in managing the negative effects of type 2 diabetes and reducing risk of complications. But when it comes to choosing a diet, the most important thing is to pick one that suits you – one that you’re likely to stick to long term."
Aug 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "In our latest study, we show that by taking the microbiome from young mice and transplanting them into old mice, many of the effects of ageing on learning and memory and immune impairments can be reversed. Using a maze, we showed that this faecal microbiota transplant from young to old mice led to the old mice finding a hidden platform faster."
Aug 3rd 2021
EXTRACT: "Fukuyama argued that political struggle causes history. This struggle tries to solve the problem of thymos – an ancient Greek term referring to our desire to have our worth recognised. This desire can involve wanting to be recognised as equal to others. But it can also involve wanting to be recognised as superior to others. A stable political system needs to accommodate both desires." .... "Counter-dominant spite can weaken liberal democracies. During the 2016 Brexit referendum, some people in the UK voted Leave to spite elites, knowing this could damage the country’s economy. Similarly, during the 2016 US presidential election some voters supported Donald Trump to spite Hillary Clinton, knowing his election could harm the US. "
Jul 31st 2021
EXTRACT: "If we want to live in a world that is good for pollinators, as well as the rest of us, big changes are needed in our environment, and our food system. This is why many beekeepers change their diet and their shopping, eating more locally grown vegetables that aren’t treated with pesticides. ...... Being willing to buy fruit and vegetables that may have the occasional insect living in it is better for us and for nature. To live more harmoniously with the natural world, we need to relax about larvae in the lettuce and slugs in the spinach."
Jul 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "You’d think our brush with mortality through the pandemic would have brought some of this home to us. You’d think it would give us pause for thought about what really matters to us: the kind of world we want for our children; the kind of society we want to live in. And for many people it has. In a survey carried out during lockdown in the UK, 85% of respondents found something in their changed conditions they felt worth keeping and fewer than 10% wanted a complete return to normal."
Jul 20th 2021
EXTRACT: "English artist Damien Hirst’s latest project, “The Currency”, is an artwork in two forms. Its physical form is 10,000 unique hand-painted A4 sheets covered in colourful dots. In the same way as paper money, each sheet includes a holographic image of Hirst, a signature, a microdot and – in place of a serial number – a small individual message. The second part of the artwork is that each of these hand-painted sheets has a corresponding NFT (non-fungible token). NFTs are digital certificates of ownership which exist on the secure online ledgers that are known as blockchains. ---- The way that “The Currency” works is that collectors will not be buying the physical artwork immediately. Instead, they will pay US$2,000 (£1,458) for the NFT and then have a year to decide whether they want the digital or the physical version. Once the collector selects one, the other will be destroyed. ---- So what is going on here, and what does it tell us about art and money?"
Jul 20th 2021
EXTRACT: "Ellison was an abstract expressionist painter, who, having come to New York City from West Texas in 1962, was as he said “unable to find traction” as a painter. At the same time, he began collecting ceramic objects and educating himself about this field of art as he went along. In 2009 he bestowed on the Metropolitan Museum of Art over 300 extraordinary examples of American ceramics, spanning the years 1876 through 1956. Since then, Ellison has gifted to the Museum over 600 works – including a significant collection of European art pottery in 2013, and most recently over 125 modern and contemporary clay vessels and objects – making the Museum one of the most significant repositories of Art Pottery in the world. ---- The current exhibition presents nearly 80 pieces drawn from Ellison’s latest donation, and it is a thoroughly captivating show; even where (or perhaps especially where) the works are outlandish, bizarre, sometimes almost monstrous, but nonetheless enthralling."
Jul 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Over the course of England’s journey to the Euro 2020 final, one of the most fascinating plays has been happening just off the pitch. Whenever the TV camera cuts to the team’s manager Gareth Southgate, he is occasionally seen standing alone on the edge of the field, urging his team on. ---- But most of the time he is deep in conversation with his assistant Steve Holland. ---- A recent study of English football culture points to a shift away from what the authors term “Beckhamisation”, after the former England captain and Manchester United star player David Beckham – a popular and instantly recognisable symbol of that period of football history (though, it is not suggested the culture was his creation). ---- During the 1990s, the study claims, this “Beckhamisation” saw high octane management practices imported from the corporate world into football. ---- In recent years, this has been replaced by “Southgatism”, a leadership style which that study describes as “modest, self-deprecating, down to earth, diverse and progressive”. "
Jun 30th 2021
EXTRACT: "New York’s Museum of Modern Art is currently presenting an exhibition devoted to an in-depth review of Paul Cézanne’s drawings. If there is any criticism to be made of this extraordinary show, it is that it is frankly overwhelming: with roughly 280 pencil, ink and gouache drawings and watercolors (and even a handful of oil paintings), there is so much to take in that two or three visits to the exhibition may be required to do it justice."
Jun 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "Cognitive flexibility provides us with the ability to see that what we are doing is not leading to success and to make the appropriate changes to achieve it." .... "Flexible thinking is key to creativity – in other words, the ability to think of new ideas, make novel connections between ideas, and make new inventions." .... "The good news is that it seems you can train cognitive flexibility."
Jun 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "Confronting our complex history and ultimately embracing a more equitable, balanced, and humble culture may be a tall order in these fractious times. But that makes it even more imperative that we fully reckon with who we are and who we are capable of becoming."
Jun 11th 2021
EXTARCT: "A further health benefit of hiking is that it’s classed as “green exercise”. This refers to the added health benefit that doing physical activity in nature has on us. Research shows that not only can green exercise decrease blood pressure, it also benefits mental wellbeing by improving mood and reducing depression to a greater extent than exercising indoors can."
Jun 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress,” Mahatma Gandhi said, “can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” If we apply that test to the world as a whole, how much moral progress have we made over the past two millennia? ...... That question is suggested by The Golden Ass, arguably the world’s earliest surviving novel, written around 170 CE, when Emperor Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire. Apuleius, the author, was an African philosopher and writer, born in what is now the Algerian city of M’Daourouch."
Jun 4th 2021
EXTRACT: "Research we’ve done, which looked at 37 adults with type 2 diabetes, found that over two weeks, prolonged sitting was associated with high blood sugar levels. But we also found that when people stood up or walked around between periods of sitting, they had lower blood sugar levels. Other studies have also had similar results."
May 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "Paul Van Doren's legacy lies in a famous company, and in his advice to young entrepreneurs to get their hands dirty, and to know what goes into making what they are selling."
May 19th 2021
EXTRACT: "May 7th marked three hundred and ten years since the philosopher David Hume was born. He is chiefly remembered as the most original and destructive of the early modern empiricists, following John Locke and George Berkeley." .... " Shocking as it may (and should) sound, Hume is implying nothing less than that the next time you turn the key in your car ignition, you are as justified to expect the engine will start as you are in believing it will turn into a pumpkin. For there is a radical contingency that pervades all our experience. We could wake up tomorrow to a world that looks and behaves very differently to the one we are in now. Matters of fact are dependent on experience and can never be known a priori — they are purely contingent, and could always turn out different than what we expect."