Top Five Zingers in Scalia’s Same-Sex Marriage Dissent

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (photo credit: Stephen Masker via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (photo credit: Stephen Masker via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to redefine marriage across the nation to include same-sex unions.  Justice Antonin Scalia was one of the dissenting justices.  Here are the top five zingers from his blistering dissent:

5. “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. . . This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.” Zing!

4. “A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.” Zing!

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Photo credit: Joshua Pinho

3. “[T]he Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful law­yers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single South-westerner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination. . . .to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.” Kapow!

2. “The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. . . ‘The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.’ (Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie. Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say.)” Take that!

But the number one, absolute Scalia zinger is. . .wait for it:

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Photo credit: Joshua Pinho

1. “If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.” POW!!

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.