I attack ideas. I don't attack people. And some very good people have some very bad ideas. And if you can't separate the two, you gotta get another day job. You don't want to be a judge. At least not a judge on a multi-member panel.
If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.
I love to argue. I've always loved to argue. And I love to point out the weaknesses of the opposing arguments. It may well be that I'm something of a shin kicker. It may well be that I'm something of a contrarian.
If there's anything you absolutely hate, why, it must be unconstitutional. Or, if there's anything you absolutely have to have, it must be required by the Constitution. That's where we are. That is utterly mindless.
What secret knowledge, one must wonder, is breathed into lawyers when they become Justices of this Court that enables them to discern that a practice which the text of the Constitution does not clearly proscribe, and which our people have regarded as constitutional for 200 years, is in fact unconstitutional?
Originalism is sort of subspecies of textualism. Textualism means you are governed by the text. That's the only thing that is relevant to your decision, not whether the outcome is desirable, not whether legislative history says this or that. But the text of the statute.
If you're going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you're not always going to like the conclusions you reach. If you like them all the time, you're probably doing something wrong.
I am something of a contrarian, I suppose. I feel less comfortable when everybody agrees with me. I say, 'I better reexamine my position!' I probably believe that the worst opinions in my court have been unanimous. Because there's nobody on the other side pointing out all the flaws.
If we're picking people to draw out of their own conscience and experience a 'new' Constitution, we should not look principally for good lawyers. We should look to people who agree with us. When we are in that mode, you realize we have rendered the Constitution useless.
Until the courts put a stop to it, public debate over same-sex marriage displayed American democracy at its best. Individuals on both sides of the issue passionately, but respectfully, attempted to persuade their fellow citizens to accept their views.
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.
I used to say that the Constitution is not a living document. It's dead, dead, dead. But I've gotten better. I no longer say that. The truth is that the Constitution is not one that morphs. It's an enduring Constitution, not a changing Constitution. That is what I've meant when I've said that the Constitution is dead.
I would not like to be replaced by someone who immediately sets about undoing what I've tried to do for 25-26 years.
Burning the flag is a form of expression. Speech doesn't just mean written words or oral words. It could be semaphore. And burning a flag is a symbol that expresses an idea - I hate the government, the government is unjust, whatever.
But I'm not pro death penalty. I - I'm just anti the notion that it is not a matter for democratic choice, that it has been taken away from the democratic choice of the people by a provision of the Constitution.
The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living, but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means, today, not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.
With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them - with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the 'reasoned judgment' of a bare majority of this Court - we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.
It's absolutely clear that whatever cruel and unusual punishments may - may mean with regard to future things, such as death by injection or the electric chair, it's clear that - that the death penalty, in and of itself, is not considered cruel and unusual punishment.
I'm nervous about our civic culture. I'm not sure the Internet is largely the cause of it. It's certainly the cause of careless writing. People who get used to blurbing things on the Internet are never going to be good writers.
Because values change, legislatures abolish the death penalty, permit same-sex marriage if they want, abolish laws against homosexual conduct. That's how the change in a society occurs. Society doesn't change through a Constitution.
The American people have determined that the good to be derived from capital punishment - in deterrence, and perhaps most of all in the meting out of condign justice for horrible crimes - outweighs the risk of error.
Power tends to corrupt. But the power in Washington resides in Congress, if it wants to use it. It can do anything - it can stop the Vietnam War, it can make its will felt, if it can ever get its act together to do anything.
I spent my junior year in Switzerland. On the way back home, I spent some time in England, and I remember going to Hyde Park Corner. And there was a Roman Catholic priest in his collar, standing on a soapbox, preaching the Catholic faith and being heckled by a group. And I thought, 'My goodness.' I thought that was admirable.
If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you flexibility, think again. You think the death penalty is a good idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That's flexibility.
Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.
If I had to choose, I would always take the less dynamic, indeed even the lazy person who knows what's right than the zealot in the cause of error. He may move slower, but he's headed in the right direction.
A journalistic purpose could be someone with a Xerox machine in a basement.
As a general rule, I do not think it appropriate for judges to heap either praise or censure upon a legislative measure that comes before them, lest it be thought that their validation, invalidation, or interpretation of it is driven by their desire to expand or constrict what they personally approve or disapprove as a matter of policy.
My view is regardless of whether you think prohibiting abortion is good or whether you think prohibiting abortion is bad, regardless of how you come out on that, my only point is the Constitution does not say anything about it. It leaves it up to democratic choice.
There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.
If you are sentenced to torture for a crime, yes, that is a cruel punishment. But the mere fact that somebody is tortured is - is unlawful under - under our statutes, but the Constitution happens not to address it, just as it does not address a lot of other horrible things.
I do accept that, with - with respect to those vague terms in the Constitution such as equal protection of the laws, due process of law, cruel and unusual punishments. I fully accept that those things have to apply to new phenomena that didn't exist at the time.