Welcome to The Stew’s weekly column of winners and losers, heroes and zeroes, foolish and fabulous, in the world of politics, news and pop culture.
Let’s get ready to rumble!
Rachel Maddow calls out a Supreme Court justice for being exactly what he is: a troll.
Rachel Maddow: Rachel Maddow caught some flak this week for – gasp! – calling out a sitting Supreme Court Justice, because apparently, Supreme Court Justices are god-like creatures who can’t be criticized for their actions or the things they say, no matter how egregious.
Nevertheless, Maddow went on The Daily Show and spoke with Jon Stewart regarding one Justice Antonin Scalia (more on him below). She pointed out the insane image of our country, which on the one hand unveiled a statue of one of our most revered civil rights heroines, Rosa Parks, while on the other hand is at the same time on the verge of dismantling one of the cornerstone provisions of the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act:
“I think the Voting Rights Act is really, really, really important. It’s not so old that it seems like something that doesn’t apply to our country anymore. Like last night on my show, I talked to one of the talk-to-somebody-about-it – I talked to John Lewis, who was nearly killed on a bridge in Selma less than a week before President Johnson convened a joint session of congress to explain, ‘Look what they just did to that guy in Selma! We need a Voting Rights Act.’ And you can still talk to John Lewis today – he’s still in congress – this is not another world.”
Well, it is if you remember that Republicans don’t live anywhere near or in a state of reality.
Now, in case you missed it, dismantling the Voting Rights Act has become a Republican priority, because rigging the vote and attempting to disenfranchising minorities are the only ways they can win elections these days; and the Republicans of Texas have even listed it in their party platform.
And, as it turns out, Scalia, true to Republican form, had some very harsh words for that Voting Rights Act, calling it a “perpetuation of racial entitlement,” which, as Maddow explained, garnered a collective gasp from those attending the hearing, because they were indeed so very, very trollish:
“I think he does know how that sounds and that’s the neat thing about being there in person so you can see that, Oh, actually he’s a troll. He’s saying this for effect. He knows it’s offensive and he knows it’s gonna get a gasp from the courtroom, which it got, and he loves it. He’s like the guy on your blog comment thread that is using the n-word…Oh, I made you mad? How about if I say this, does it make you mad? Did it make you mad? He’s that guy.
“When we’re all shocked that he said something so blatantly, racially offensive – we’re talking about the cornerstone of federal civil rights act – he’s thinking, ‘Oh, yeah! I did!’”
So, was Maddow wrong to label Scalia a troll? Let us find out.
But first WATCH Maddow’s interview with Stewart (story continues below):
Unfortunately for Scalia, his verbal record is long and lengthy, so “troll” is most fitting.
Antonin Scalia: Everybody knows the guy is a Republican flamethrower (he’s one of those “activist” judges that the right wing loves to bitch and moan about), and as the political atmosphere in the country has grown ever more divided, he has staked his claim on some dubious, far right-wing territory.
Scalia on Immigration:
Scalia cited post-civil war racial-exclusion laws to make the case for strict immigration:
Notwithstanding “[t]he myth of an era of unrestricted immigration” in the first 100 years of the Republic, the States enacted numerous laws restricting the immigration of certain classes of aliens, including convicted criminals, indigents, persons with contagious diseases, and (in Southern States) freed blacks. State laws not only provided for the removal of unwanted immigrants but also imposed penalties on unlawfully present aliens and those who aided their immigration
Scalia on Voting Rights:
Citing Southern states as the paragon of law when it comes to minorities is probably not the best course of action, but it is part of an overall picture, which has now been reflected and perfectly mirrored in his comments on the Voting Rights Act, which, for the sake of context, were these:
Then, it is reenacted 5 years later, again for a 5-year term. Double-digits against it in the Senate. Then it was reenacted for 7 years. Single digits against it. Then enacted for 25 years, 8 Senate votes against it. And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.
Scalia on Torture:
On the subject of torture, every right-winger worth their salt’s favorite subject, Scalia is pro, pro, pro, all the way:
Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to find out where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited under the Constitution? Because smacking someone in the face would violate the 8th amendment in a prison context. You can’t go around smacking people about.
Is it obvious that what can’t be done for punishment can’t be done to exact information that is crucial to this society? It’s not at all an easy question, to tell you the truth.
Seems to me you have to say, as unlikely as that is, it would be absurd to say that you can’t stick something under the fingernails, smack them in the face. It would be absurd to say that.
Scalia on the Death Penalty:
But hey! Even if they’re innocent, go ahead and execute them anyway:
This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable.
Scalia on LGBT Equality:
And then there’s the issue of the LGBT community. I’ve often said that those who protest the most usually have the most to hide. If that’s the case, then Scalia’s closet must be brimming. In his dissenting opinion of Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down anti-sodomy laws in Texas, Scalia went on a bit of a tirade:
[The] Texas Penal Code undoubtedly imposes constraints on liberty. So do laws prohibiting prostitution, recreational use of heroin, and, for that matter, working more than 60 hours per week in a bakery. But there is no right to “liberty” under the Due Process Clause, though today’s opinion repeatedly makes that claim.
And then there’s the whole gay rights as murder thing:
Scalia was asked by a gay student why he equates laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder.
“It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,’” Scalia told [freshman Duncan] Hosie of San Francisco during the question-and-answer period. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
Scalia said he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both.
So, to level the accusation of troll against the King of Trolldom, is not so far-fetched as it may seem – hell, he even did a Conservative 101 class for his female counterpart in Teabaggery, the Queen of Trolldom, Michele Bachmann.
Scalia is simply the Teabagger face of the Supreme Court, and Rachel Maddow hit the nail on the head – which is why it hurt so badly.
That’s it for this week! Join us next week for more Heroes and Zeroes!
Note: I always welcome your input via the comment section below. You can also nominate someone/thing for next week’s “Heroes and Zeroes.”