I Have a Few Words for Justice Antonin Scalia and His Ignorance About the Separation of Church and State

justice-scalia-cluelessI’m not really sure if there are many people walking this planet who I have such utter disdain for as I do Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He’s an arrogant blowhard who has no business on our Supreme Court. But there he’s been for nearly three decades, since Ronald Reagan appointed him in 1986.

He’s a big reason why I’ve advocated that Supreme Court Justices should have limits on how long they can sit on the bench. It’s absurd to think that a justice could be appointed and rule for several decades. Not only that, but it’s nearly impossible to remove one from their position. They’re not elected and have almost no system of checks and balances. For all intents and purposes, they’re a group of nine dictators that wield power over the United States and there’s almost nothing Americans can do about it.


Well, during Scalia’s time on the Supreme Court he’s made it pretty clear that his personal views drive his interpretation of our laws. Not our actual Constitution. He’s often ruled against cases that sought to protect civil rights, women’s rights, equality for women and minorities.

In other words, he’s nothing more than a radical right-wing conservative wearing a robe. He defines what it means when someone uses the term “activist judge.”

Take for instance his recent comments where he essentially pissed all over our First Amendment, claiming that religion should be favored over secularism.

Scalia said, “I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion.”

Actually, our First Amendment makes that pretty clear. Religion should be kept out of government – period.

“We do him (God) honor in our pledge of allegiance, in all our public ceremonies,” Justice Scalia continued. “There’s nothing wrong with that. It is in the best of American traditions, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. I think we have to fight that tendency of the secularists to impose it on all of us through the Constitution.”

You’re telling me a Supreme Court Justice isn’t aware that the phrase “one nation under God” wasn’t in the original text of our Pledge of Allegiance? Besides, our pledge has nothing to do with Constitutional values, considering the original version wasn’t written until 1892 and the “under God” passage wasn’t added until 1954. So, tell me, what the heck does our Pledge of Allegiance have to do with Constitutional rights?

But there’s more…

“Our latest take on the subject, which is quite different from previous takes, is that the state must be neutral, not only between religions, but between religion and nonreligion,” Justice Scalia said. “That’s just a lie. Where do you get the notion that this is all unconstitutional? You can only believe that if you believe in a morphing Constitution.”


Where do we get that notion? From our First Amendment! 

If our government cannot establish a religion, and laws cannot be based on religion, how can it be Constitutional to then pass laws based on religion? 

It’s like I’ve said before, the words “God,” “Christian,” “Christianity” or “Jesus Christ” don’t appear in our Constitution one single timeWhy, if our Founding Fathers wanted this nation to be ruled on Christian values, did they omit any mention of Christianity in our Bill of Rights? The omission of these words wasn’t by accident, but by design.

Conservatives claim these men were “Christians” (which isn’t true, many were deists), and were undoubtedly brilliant, yet they “forgot” to mention that by freedom of religion they “only” meant Christianity? You’re telling me if you gathered a group of top Republicans together right now to rewrite our Constitution, they’d omit any mention of their religion in that document?

Yeah right. Christianity would be the driving theme behind their version of our Constitution. References to it would be littered throughout the text.

These same people claim that the Founding Fathers would agree with them – yet didn’t include a single mention of religion in our Constitution outside of our First Amendment which clearly states that we cannot establish religious rule.

Scalia isn’t ruling based on Constitutional interpretation, he’s ruling based on his own warped personal views of these issues. Which is exactly what a Supreme Court Justice is not supposed to do. They’re there to interpret the law, not advocate for policies from the bench. But, unfortunately, that’s what our Supreme Court has turned into. A place where nine people convene to mostly vote not based on actual objective views of the law, but based upon the political ideologies that they support.



Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • buricco

    inb4 “But Christianity isn’t a reliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigion, it’s a personal relationship with gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawd!” *sigh* If I had a nickel every time I heard that…

    • Robyn Ryan

      Fine. Go get a room. But leave me out of it.

  • Jim Bean

    Justices should serve for 8 years. Every 8, a new panel should seated. Prior to deciding the panel, the contestants should be subjected to a examination which includes a battery of questions. The contestants would be required to answer the questions based on their interpretation of the constitution. Those selected to sit on the panel would all have to have arrived at the same conclusions.

    When you have what we have now – one narrow decision after another – you know some are doing what’s intended (interpreting the constitution impartially) and others are ignoring their duties and presuming to legislate from the bench. Get too much of the latter and the document isn’t worth the paper its printed on and we’re a banana republic.

    • pablo duvnjak

      USA has been a banana republic for a long time now

      • Jim Bean

        Sadly.

    • Robyn Ryan

      When Congress refuses to do its job, the other 2 branches take up the power vacuum. By denying the Executive Branch its rightful powers, Congress castrated itself. Leaving SCOTUS as the Law makers. Writers of deliberately un-Constitutional Laws should be taken out and beaten pulpy. For not doing an honest job for their employees.

    • Allen Booth

      Two back-to-back ten-year terms.

  • Jerry Graybosch

    Constitution prohibts “any religious test”… Doesn’t that put Scalia’s argument to rest?

  • Laura Hurt

    You can tell this by looking at the verdicts that they issue. Like the hobby lobby decision, which clearly is unconstitutional. I think it’s scary, the way religion is getting a hold in the US. I know that religion is on its way out, that more and more people here are not believing, but jeez how the people in power are clinging to it with all their might. Vote this November people, vote please!!!!

    • youcantgetridofmethateasy

      Really? “Religion is getting a hold”? It wasn’t here in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Jamestown? Seems it’s been here far longer than American Atheism.

      ————————————————————————————————-

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

      That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    • Matt Rutley

      ^ This is just a bunch of ignorant, hateful garbage. You’re no better than the extremist Christians who try to impose their views and opinions on you. It’s perfectly fine that people are religious, it just becomes a problem when it interferes with our government. Most religious people are much more moderate and progressive than you make them out to be… Attack the extremist people and their views, not the religion itself. Also the vast majority of this country is still religious, so good luck with the “on its way out thing”.

      • Laura Hurt

        Since atheism is rising, religion is on its way out. It may take some time, but it will be a fringe issue, just like in every western country.

        “It’s perfectly fine that people are religious, it just becomes a problem when it interferes with our government. ”
        I don’t disagree with you there, if you read what I wrote properly I am talking about the people in politics.

        “Most religious people are much more moderate and progressive than you
        make them out to be… Attack the extremist people and their views, not
        the religion itself.”
        Which is exactly what I did, saying that the people in power are clinging to it and that they should be voted out. Also, those ‘most religious people’ that are so moderate and progressive could work a bit harder to get rid of that extremism themselves. Instead they are leaning back and are just complaining when they are thrown on the same heap as those extremists. Well, if you are a member of a group and you don’t address certain things within your own community, you are as much to blame.

  • Jon Beachkofski

    How do you protect every citizen’s right to practice their unique religious beliefs, free from interference or intimidation, in a country where the majority make the rules? You separate church (organized religion) from state (the laws and institutions of government). The rules of the majority always limit the freedoms of the minority. It is the price paid to avoid anarchy. However, some rights are important enough that the minority must be protected FROM majority rule. That is the primary role of SCOTUS, and, apparently, not often understood.

    • Eoin Maloney

      Hell, Scalia proves that even the SCOTUS doesn’t always get the point of the SCOTUS.

    • Sean Engmann

      First of all, we are in a republic, not a democracy. The majority does not make the rules, it elects representatives to make the rules. That is an important distinction because the majority does not always get its way (for better or worse). As a Constitutional Republic, the rights of the people vs. the government and the minorities vs. the majority are further protected. It is the job of SCOTUS not to “protect minority rights” but to interpret the Constitution, which protects everyone’s rights, correctly. In my opinion, the only way to do so is to apply the words as they are written.

      • Jim

        Sounds like the true meaning of the Constitution, which is to protect the wealthy from the herd.

      • Jon Beachkofski

        I agree. We have a Constitutional Republic. Not sure how that affects the majority/minority conflict issue, but it is fact.
        Regarding your contention on SCOTUS, let me
        summarize: “It is the job of SCOTUS …to interpret the Constitution …correctly. In my opinion, the only way to do so is to apply the words as they are written.”

        To interpret any communication correctly is a challenge. I know, for myself, I often fail to effectively convey my concept/intent, especially in complex issues. Are you suggesting that the authors of the “Bill of Rights” were perfect in there choice of words, and we should take them at their current, 21st century meaning? Or their 18th century meaning? If not, do we look to the founders’ other communications for insight on interpretation? As has been claimed in other comments, the founders are deceased, and they are no longer able to explain their position. It becomes a dilemma for both the citizens and for SCOTUS.

        So I am back to my main point – the primary role of SCOTUS. For the majority, they can always press issues through Congress to create new, clearer and more effective laws not in conflict with the Constitution, as interpreted by SCOTUS. For the minority, their road stops at SCOTUS.

      • Robyn Ryan

        Congress and lower legislators have made careers out of writing and passing Laws which are patently illegal. This builds a strawman, that they ‘fight for’ endlessly, pleasing the peasants and nobility, and preventing them from actually working at writing decent Laws. Legislators write Laws. Judges rule on their constitutionality. They should rule on how the common good is served, how to form a more perfect Union and how to encourage the pursuit of happiness. How to be better stewards to our Common Wealth, so the future doesn’t hold us in contempt. How fast can we get to Star Trek. The really important stuff.

        You cannot legislate morality. You cannot adjudicate morality. The Constitution says so. The writer’s objective was to create a wall between the citizen and the corporate/religious interests that led to the revolution. They made the State that Wall. It is the Constitutional duty of the 3 branches of government to maintain the wall between profiteers and people. No ‘Lords’ visible or invisible.
        If Scalia want’s to claim to be an ‘Originalist’ he needs to set the text within the political/historical/global issues under which it was written. But he’s attempting to replace the Bible with the Constitution – with himself as St. Anthony. Sacred words, declaimed by select priests. The Abrahamic religions’ heir apparent.

  • Scalia is suffering a form of dementia, an advanced form of bi-polar disorder with profound manic affect. He needs to get treatment or retire.

    • Steve_Schmeve

      Retire is fine. I don’t care whether or not he gets treatment.

  • John D. Cox

    Well, after all Scalia says that our United States Constitution is a dead document. He says that it’s not a document that lives with our time but “back there” somewhere when there was the social institution of slavery. where Native Americans are nothing and no bodies, women were nothing as well, and same-sex attracted Americans would be executed as abominable. He says that it’s dead back there in The American Golden Age that really has not ever existed.

    But, when Scalia says it dead, he can do anything that he wants and say anything about it that he wants. After all, if its dead, it cannot speak to us today. Rather, Scalia speaks for the supposed dead document. Scalia’s next step is to GET RID of the supposed dead document all-together. Then, there’ll really and truly be only activist judges that the religious right will proclaim as gawd’s representatives on earth. Evilgelical fundamentalisticals will propound that we have truly arrived at The American Dream with the supposed “Christian” gawd at its center.

    • Robyn Ryan

      It won’t be dead, dead. Just Jesus dead. It becomes a Sacred text, mashed up with the Bible. St. George Washington and the evil Jefferson speak to the citizens through the Holy priesthood – the only ones that can interpret the document as it flowed from god to brain to pen. Same old, same old. Rerun of the founding of the Abrahamic religions.

  • I often times think, or even say out loud, “Jesus Christ” when I look through the Constitution trying to figure out someone’s interpretation. Usually followed by “What the F… are these people thinking? It doesn’t say anything even remotely like that.”
    Maybe that’s why they think it’s a religious document? They hear voices in their heads?

  • Andy Kinnard

    He has even adopted the language and framing of the extremist religious right in calling those who support separation of Church and State “secularists” as if it were a belief system or religion. It is most definitely distinct from any faith (because it doesn’t rely on faith).

    That Scalia has SO quickly incorporated this “secularist” language into his thinking and public arguments underscores his extremism and clear politicization. It all but proves that he become a political ooerative.

    • Robyn Ryan

      But you need a label for your intended demonic arch-enemy. Liberal is toast, Mooslim dated, so go for the ‘secularist’ heretics!!!! Works every time.
      It worked for the Tea Bag backers.

  • Steve_Schmeve

    So, where are the Tea Partiers on this subject, pushing for constitutional values and fighting against activist judges? Why do they only climb out from under their rocks when the issues are guns, gays and women’s reproduction rights?

  • saharris

    I agree that the time for lifetime appointments (ad vitam aut culpam) may have passed. That being said, however, we cannot have elected judges/justices who are more worried about what is popular then what is right either. That would open up a new and less-desirable set of problems.

    I would propose a constitutional amendment that would raise the threshold for confirmation from a simple-majority to a 2/3 supermajority; these positions are too important and hold too much influence to skate by on a party-line vote. I would also eliminate lifetime appointments altogether, and replace them appointment that would require reconfirmation by the Senate every 8 years – with 2/3 required to deny reconfirmation.

    In the case at hand, Justice Antonin Scalia was confirmed by a vote of 98-0 in 1986, but he would have been subject to votes of reconfirmation in 1994, 2002, 2010, and due again in 2018.

    • EaDiot

      A reconfirmation every 8 years would be the same as them kowtowing to the Senate as opposed to the electorate. Term limits are required but the question would be how long should the term be? Given that Reid had to almost use the nucleur option to get lower courts filled you expect a super-majority. Simple majority and say 10 year terms so that they would serve under potentially 3 administrations would be the simplest and easiest but the rider is that there needs to be the right to impeach/recall based on ethics and that would require a super-majority.

      • saharris

        Congress already has the power to impeach and remove justices from office.

  • Sean Engmann

    The first clause of the 1st amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” With all due respect, the writer goes off on a rant about what is and what is not in the Constitution and how a SCOTUS justice doesn’t know the 1st amendment, but does not cite the actual text himself.

    Scalia is not some nut or religious zealot as caricatured by this writer, he is merely someone who believes that the law should be interpreted as written. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that there must be a “separation of church and state” as the whole notion of a “high wall of separation” is based on other justices’ interpretations and opinions. What the Constitution clearly does prohibit is the establishment of a state religion (like the Church of England).

    I am not a religious person and probably fall somewhere between agnostic and atheistic presently. What I see, though, is the organized assault on religion and religious institutions being cloaked by a selectively interpreted reading of the 1st Amendment. This is not about the rights of the non-religious, it is an agenda driven campaign to systematically dismantle organized religion in the US, thereby, ironically, establishing non-religion as the new state religion. In doing so, by limiting the ability for individuals and groups to publicly practice their religion, they are hindering the free exercise of religion.

    The 1st Amendment, correctly interpreted by Justice Scalia, strikes the correct balance – it is secular in nature because it prohibits religious institutions and public institutions from being one in the same, but it also allows for religious elements and values to be present in public life – it protects religion from government, According to the writer’s interpretation, the Constitutional protections are a one-way street. Religious values have long been an important part of American culture, the founders knew that, and they must be protected by interpreting the words of the 1st Amendment as they were written.

    • Guest

      Yep obviously the Constitution from establishing a religion but it doesn’t say anything about Scalia doin it!.

  • Jim

    I wonder if his confirmation hearings testimony mentions this and whether he can be impeached for perjury. Just sayin…

  • Robyn Ryan

    Anyone with the dimmest grasp of European history knows the horror of the religious wars that had people fleeing the Continent for their lives. Cromwell, King James, Spanish Inquisition…. all blood-drenched warnings against religion meddling in government. The Constitution’s authors actively protested any inclusion of a god. Their heroes were the Classical scholars of Greece, not the wrathful god of a desert tribe.

  • Citizen99

    Oh stop whining.