The United States Supreme Court is one of our nation’s most important institutions, passing judgements that change the face of the nation and affect the lives of millions of Americans. Which is why it is extremely alarming to hear a member of that hallowed court make disgustingly racist comments like Justice Scalia did yesterday when he said that African-American students don’t deserve to go to the best colleges because they aren’t as intelligent as white students. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t even the first time the ornery conservative has said some appalling things about minority groups, like this little gem: “What minorities deserve protection? What? It’s up to me to identify deserving minorities?What about pederasts? What about child abusers?”
His comments have provoked a firestorm of criticism and condemnation from civil rights groups, Democrats, and Americans who do not tolerate casual racism among supposedly impartial judges. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) issue a brutal response to Scalia’s comments, saying that he was no less a bigot than Donald Trump:
“It is deeply disturbing to hear a Supreme Court justice endorse racist ideas from the bench of the nation’s highest court. The only difference between the ideas endorsed by [Donald] Trump and Scalia is that Scalia has a robe and a lifetime appointment. “The top two Republican leaders … in the United States have said they will support Donald Trump if he’s nominated. And now we have a Republican-appointed Supreme Court justice saying racist things from the bench. Ideas like this don’t belong in the Internet, let alone the mouths of national figures.”
But it was the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), who said what we all wanted to hear, and immediately began calling for Scalia’s recusal from the case and demanded that the Judiciary Conference consider removing him from the Supreme Court bench entirely:
“Justice Scalia’s comments were disgusting, inaccurate, and insulting to African Americans, and his statements undervalue the historic achievements we have made. Thousands of black Americans have excelled in top tier universities. African Americans have achieved positions of prominence–including Justice Scalia’s colleague, Justice Clarence Thomas. He’s expressed a bias or potential bias that will affect the public confidence in the outcome of the case. Judges have to have integrity and they need to be independent and not make reckless comments from the bench that cast a shadow on the administration of justice.”
He is absolutely right. Justice Scalia is a despicable disgrace to his gavel and the institution of the United States Supreme Court. The fact that he inadvertently revealed his preconceived conclusion before hearing all the evidence is an abhorrent show of bias that should disqualify him from making any more decisions on that court. He needs to be impeached and taken off the bench before his antiquated and discriminatory opinions have another opportunity to become a binding legal ruling. This is a deadly serious matter, the irony of which Scalia doesn’t even recognize – he himself was put on the SCOTUS bench as a product of affirmative action, as recounts Peter Wallison:
I think [Reagan] felt that it would be great to put an Italian American on the Supreme Court. He had all the usual American instincts: ‘We don’t have an Italian American on the court, so we ought to have one.’ He really felt good about doing that. It wasn’t principle so much as that kind of emotional commitment.
Given the tense nature of racial relations in America right now, his comments are especially disturbing. It shows that institutionalized racism runs right through American society, from the cop slamming your face into the sidewalk all the way to the Supreme Court justices setting the laws of the land. This is a multi-racial, multi-gendered society, and we cannot tolerate the kind of causal racism being thrust into the public discourse.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.