Photo courtesy of the Boston Herald (obviously!)
Justice Scalia has never been a particularly nice guy. He says that he's "an originalist", i.e. interpreting the Constitution based on his understanding of "the Founders' intent", but that's B.S.; when he has his own axe to grind (e.g., Bush v. Gore) he tosses his high and mighty principles to the side and rules according to what he wants, rather than the rule of law.
Consider my favorite, Lawrence v. Texas, where the court found that, no, states don't have a right to invade your private bedroom space and tell you how to be intimate with your partner. They don't have a right to say, "Yo, gay people: butt sex is yucky, and we're not tolerating it!" Nope; that was struck down.
But Scalia clearly feels that butt sex is very yucky--it says so in the Bible, he noted--and so the state does have a right to poke its nose into your most private, intimate business. But he is very clear to note that he's not homophobic. No sir! Some of his best friends are fags! He just thinks butt sex is yucky and should be outlawed, but he's no bigot, no!
That's hardly all, of course. One of the most egregious quotes by Scalia was about his decision to allow innocent people to go to death row. When someone asked him how he could countenance sending innocents to death he replied, "Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached." So it doesn't matter that you were innocent; a court found you guilty, so time to die! (How he squares that with Catholicism, I have no idea.)
So in my opinion, the perception of Scalia as a short-tempered, grumpy old hypocrite is absolutely correct. Look at the photo above. The story behind it is that a reporter had the temerity to ask Scalia a question, and so Scalia made that gesture and noted to the reporter that it means "blah", which (depending on what source you check) is Italian for "fuck you.". He is, in other words, flipping someone off/cussing them out just for being asked a question. (The Supremes usually hide from that.) In short, he's being a douche.
But here's what got me particularly irked:
JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Kneedler, what happenedto the Eighth Amendment? You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages? (Laughter) And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to -- to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That weare going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?
Look: the entire job of the SCOTUS is to look at the list of laws that has been submitted to them, decide which ones they're going to adjudicate and which ones they aren't, and then render judgements on those they've decided to take on. That's all they're supposed to do. That's their entire job, their raison d'etre.
And now comes Scalia, and he says that it would be cruel and unusual punishment (the 8th Amendment) to do his job. Yes, Tony: you are supposed to read the whole thing, item by item, and render a judgement as to whether it's consititutional, you lazy, arrogant jerk. That's what the SCOTUS does. Didn't you read Marbury v. Madison? I know you're an old, "get those kids off my lawn" kind of guy, but if you've decided that doing your job is beneath you somehow, do everyone in this country a favor and retire!
So like I say: what a douche.