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U.S. Supreme Court

Scalia: First Amendment Protects ‘Idiot’ Pastor Who Threatened to Burn the Koran

Posted Sep 20, 2010 10:59 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Justice Antonin Scalia told law students on Friday that the First Amendment likely protects anyone who burns the Koran.

Scalia called Florida pastor Terry Jones an “idiot,” but said he would be protected if he ever carried out his threats to burn the Koran, according to the Contra Costa Times. “It may be a very bad idea, but a lot of stupid stuff is perfectly constitutional," he said.

Scalia cautioned that there might be an exception, according to SFAppeal.com, if the Koran burning “is going to immediately cause a riot the police can't deal with."

Commenting on a different constitutional issue, Scalia said the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause does not bar discrimination based on sex, a view at odds with court precedent, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, you have legislatures," he said.

According to the Chronicle, Scalia said the equal protection clause also does not protect discrimination against gays and lesbians. The Contra Costa Times and SFAppeal.com say Scalia did not specifically address the issue of same-sex marriage, however.

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