Ten years ago, in a display of judicial activism unprecedented in American history, Justice Antonin Scalia engineered the Bush-v-Gore ruling that handed the presidency to a Republican who had lost the nation’s popular vote and was threatened with defeat in a Florida recount. Scalia’s moves removed any serious doubt about his partisan preference.
Now, however, the justice has removed any doubt about his ideological preference within the Republican Party, with an announcement that he will be meeting with—and, undoubtedly, providing talking points for—Michele Bachmann’s Tea (Party)-stained “Constitutional Conservative Caucus.”
Scalia, the most determined activist on a high court that has been redefined by its results-oriented conservative majority, will deliver the inaugural address to the right-wing representatives as part of a speaker series that features no less a constitutional scholar than Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Sergio Gor, a spokesman for Bachmann, revealed Tuesday that his boss—a Minnesota Republican so extreme in her views that her fellow Republicans rebuffed her run for the chairmanship of the House Republican Caucus—has been meeting privately with Scalia. It was at one such session that the congresswoman invited the justice to address her new group.
Scalia accepted and will appear at the private session to be held sometime in “the first few weeks of the new Congress,” said Gor, who described his boss as “very excited because there’s no better individual to address the issues and educate the members of the Congress than Justice Scalia.”
Scalia will, according to a Supreme Court spokeswoman who confirmed the arrangement between the justice and Bachmann, “discuss Separation of Powers.”
Presumably, he will be explaining what happens to the founding faith in the necessity of checks and balances when a Supreme Court justice begins working with a member of Congress who thinks her colleagues need to “start our week with a class on the Constitution” so that they will understand that: “The Judeo-Christian heritage isn’t a belief. It’s a fact of our nation’s history. It’s a fact.”
Notably, one of Scalia’s fellow lecturers in Bachmann’s constitution classroom will be David Barton, a Christian evangelist who claims that the separation of church and state separation is "a myth."
Barton’s presence will require some historical gymnastics, as Scalia positions himself as a defender of “constitutional originalism” who supposedly he follows the lead of founders such as Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson, it should be noted, wrote these words:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
Or maybe not. Maybe Scalia will focus his remarks on the high court’s ruling this year in the case of Citizens United v. FEC—which freed the money elites and their corporations to spend whatever they choose to buy elections. The Tory jurist could explain how it was grounded in the “pre-constitutional originalism” of King George III and Britain’s aristocracy of wealth.