WASHINGTON -- December 6 -- In response to media speculation about the possibility of Justice Antonin Scalia being nominated by President Bush to serve as Chief Justice of the United States, People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said Scalias nomination would be a disaster. He said People For the American Way would strongly oppose a Chief Justice nomination for either Scalia or Clarence Thomas, the two justices with the most extreme right-wing judicial philosophies on the Supreme Court.
If Scalia were promoted to Chief Justice, it would further jeopardize the social justice achievements of the past 70 years, said Neas. Scalias entire 18-year Supreme Court record including his temperament, his ethically questionable conduct, and his consistent tendency to allow his ideology to remake the law would make a compelling case for his rejection by the Senate.
Neas noted that in a speech at a New York synagogue several weeks ago, Scalia strongly attacked the important American legal principle of government neutrality toward religion, the most recent example of his efforts to remake the law and rewrite history.
Scalia recently suggested that church-state separation existed in Europe and did not make Jews and other religious minorities safer, said Neas. Historically, that is exactly backward. Indeed, centuries of history document that the union of church and state has often contributed to the persecution of religious minorities, including Jews. The writers of the Constitution were very aware of the history and constant threat of religious persecution when religion becomes captive to the state. That is why conservative as well as moderate justices have understood that the First Amendment provides for neutrality in order to protect both religion and religious freedom.
Concluded Neas, Scalias distortion of both history and the law is what makes him so dangerous.
Neas noted that the affiliated People For the American Way Foundation has documented that Scalia and Thomas are well to the right of even the very conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Its series of Courting Disaster reports, published first in 2000 and updated most recently in June 2004, analyze the concurring and dissenting opinions of Scalia and Thomas cited by President Bush as his model for future Supreme Court nominees and demonstrate that a Supreme Court majority embracing the Scalia-Thomas judicial philosophies could reverse more than 100 Supreme Court precedents and decades of social justice progress. Those reports are available at http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=11111.