Justice Scalia is the longest serving Justice on the Supreme Court and has no doubt become used to being a lightning rod for criticism. However, over the last few days he’s made a series of public statements that have drawn criticism not just from the usual liberal corners, but also from conservative observers.
In an interview with the National Press Club Justice Scalia (and Justice Ginsburg) was asked about whether or not the NSA domestic spying program constituted a violation of the Constitution.
“No because it’s not absolute. As Ruth has said there are very few freedoms that are absolute. I mean your person is protected by the Fourth Amendment but as I pointed out when you board a plane someone can pass his hands all over your body that’s a terrible intrusion, but given the danger that it’s guarding against it’s not an unreasonable intrusion. And it can be the same thing with acquiring this data that is regarded as effects. That’s why I say it’s foolish to have us make the decision because I don’t know how serious the danger is in this NSA stuff, I really don’t.”
Justice Scalia is a brilliant legal mind and has served admirably for years on our highest court – but I disagree. This is not a simple question of getting a pat down to board a plane – this is the government eavesdropping on the personal conversation and transactions of every American over the course of a decade. They monitored our phone calls, our internet activity and our electronic travels. With the way that our culture and technology have progressed and changed we live much of our lives through electronic mediums. If the NSA spying on Americans doesn’t violate the First, Third and Fourth Amendment… then it means those Amendments are no longer effectual in the most literal sense.
Justice Scalia would argue that the Constitution is NOT a living document, and I tend to agree, so it does not change simply because time or technology do. However, I do believe that intent is important, and the intent of the founders was to ensure that the government could not encroach on the personal lives of citizens without specific and compelling reason. I think Justice Scalia misses the mark when considering the NSA malfeasance.
Scalia didn’t stop with the NSA. He also drove liberals to anger when discussing taxes, specifically the income tax. Justice Scalia was speaking at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee when he was asked about the Constitutionality of the income tax. Scalia responded that the government has the right to implement the tax, “but if it reaches a certain point, perhaps you should revolt.”
The income tax has long been a constitutional sore point for many conservatives who rue the day the 16th Amendment was passed, seeing it as a turning point which has led to the horrific taxation we experience in America today. So while liberals may be happy to hear that Scalia believes the income tax to be constitutional – his suggestion to revolt at a certain point drove liberal talking heads to froth at the mouth in anger! (Which is always fun.)
Justice Scalia also reminded the crowd that we have the right and the duty to speak out against the government when we feel the need.
“You’re entitled to criticize the government, and you can use words, you can use symbols, you can use telegraph, you can use Morse code, you can burn a flag,”
While I may disagree with Justice Scalia on the NSA issue, his work and service to our nation have been vital. If not for Justice Scalia we’d be drowning in a sea of liberal judicial decisions thanks to the makeup of much of the rest of the court. One thing is sure, Scalia will continue to be the epicenter of controversy as long as he remains in the court… and that’s (mostly) good for America.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com