Justice Scalia says has not expressed view on gay marriage

MEDFORD, Massachusetts Wed Oct 2, 2013 6:39pm EDT

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York September 17, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York September 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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MEDFORD, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one of four justices to dissent from a June decision by the court that struck down a portion of a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, said on Thursday he has not given his views on the constitutionality of gay marriage itself.

"I haven't expressed my view about gay marriage," Scalia, a noted conservative said, adding that the decision itself only applied to a narrow piece of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

"The issue in the DOMA case was not whether the Constitution requires states to allow gay marriage. That was not the question at all," Scalia said at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, outside Boston. "The question is whether Congress can define marriage in all of the statues that Congress enacted to mean only marriage between a man and a woman."

In his dissenting opinion on that ruling, Scalia, who was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, wrote that the majority ignored procedural obstacles he said should have prevented the court from taking up the matter in the first place.

Despite the DOMA ruling and another June ruling that knocked down a 2008 California state law that forbade same-sex unions, the Court has stood back from the gay-marriage debate, instead allowing it to play out state by state.

Currently 13 U.S. states, including much of the northeast, recognize same-sex unions. The issue is now being fought out in states, including New Jersey where a state court last week issued a ruling that would allow gay nuptials to begin on October 21, although an appeal is expected. In Pennsylvania, a county clerk has appealed a court decision ordering him to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

Scalia, who takes an "originalist" approach in his decisions, which means he tries to frame legal decisions by what the writers of the Constitution and subsequent amendments meant, allowed that it is possible the issue will find its way back to the court.

"I'm waiting for the second shoe to drop," said Scalia, the longest-serving member of the U.S. Supreme Court

(Reporting by Scott Malone. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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Comments (6)
masaccio wrote:
Soon he will be dead. And gay people will be getting married.

Oct 02, 2013 9:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JeffMarks wrote:
While he might not have given his opinion on the constitutionality of marriage equality, he has given his opinion of marriage equality many times – - to the point where another jurist would recuse himself.

And while he might not feel that the Windsor case decides “whether the Constitution requires states to allow gay marriage,” in his own dissent Scalia says that the state laws cannot stand given Kennedy’s rulings.

Oct 03, 2013 5:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
david0296 wrote:
“In his dissenting opinion on that ruling, Scalia, wrote that the majority ignored procedural obstacles he said should have prevented the court from taking up the matter in the first place.”

Seriously? Isn’t that the job of the Supreme Court, to decide whether or not laws are constitutional? Perhaps he doesn’t actually know what his job is? That wouldn’t surprise me, considering that he believes we should all be living as if it were still 1776. Black people should be thankful that this bigoted blowhard had no input on the Civil Rights Act or interracial marriage. Our Founding Fathers would never have supported either concept.

Here’s a wacky idea: Treat ALL law-abiding tax paying Americans with equality, regardless of their sexual orientation. That includes having the right to marry the consenting adult of your choice. A very simple concept that is completely lost on people like Scalia who are incapable of separating their religious beliefs from the ideals of liberty and freedom.

Oct 03, 2013 11:22am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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