U.S. Supreme Court

Scalia Explains Why He Compares Sodomy Bans to Murder Laws


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Photo of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin
Scalia courtesy of ABA Media Services.

In an appearance at Princeton University on Monday, Justice Antonin Scalia defended a dissent in a 2003 Supreme Court case overturning a sodomy ban.

Scalia’s dissent had called the majority decision in Lawrence v. Texas “a massive disruption of the current social order.” Scalia said the Texas ban on sodomy was an expression of Texas citizens’ beliefs about morality, “the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality and obscenity.” Scalia said the Supreme Court’s justification for overturning the sodomy law could call into question laws banning gay marriage, and the majority had “largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.”

At the Princeton appearance, a student who identified himself as gay asked how Scalia can compare moral objections to sodomy with moral objections to things such as bestiality or murder, report the Associated Press and the Daily Princetonian.

Scalia said his comparisons are intended to make a point. “It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,’ ” Scalia said. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”

Scalia then added, “I’m surprised you weren’t persuaded.”

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank once called Scalia a “homophobe” in a 2009 interview in which he said that at some point the U.S. Supreme Court will have to review the Defense of Marriage Act barring federal benefits for married same-sex couples. His prediction proved true on Friday when the U.S. Supreme Court accepted a challenge to the law along with a separate case challenging California’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage.

The Times of Trenton also has a story on Scalia’s speech.

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