Last night I was at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s 50th Anniversary Gala. The food, drink, music, dancing — all great. The speakers were a mixed bag, with Mitch McConnell and William F. Buckley, Jr., being the highlights.
Senator Rick Santorum being asked to lead the audience in saying the Pledge of Allegiance was an omen that not all would be as pleasant, and the remarks by Justice Antonin Scalia proved this expectation true. Despite a request for no visual media coverage, the AP has published this report of the event complete with photo.
The article is good, but by focusing only on what Scalia said about the recent Lawrence decision it misses the more astonishing and alarming quotes — such as Scalia calling the Bill of Rights an “afterthought” to the “real Constitution.” He wasn’t just being overly literal; throughout the speech he derided the liberal emphasis on individual rights as opposed to majority rule.
I’m sympathetic to the idea that our current view of the Constitution is more liberal rights oriented than the Founders’ was (see Akil Amar’s The Bill of Rights for an interpretation like this), but Scalia takes this view to absurd lengths. What, after all, makes the “real” Constitution so good except that it checks a government’s power over minority interests by enumerating and separating powers and establishing a federal system? (Fed 10, anyone?)
Scalia seemed to undercut his own argument when he concluded by praising ISI for bringing conservative minds together. He noted that this is important since people’s thoughts are effected by what the people around them think, which strikes me as a reason to be skeptical of majority rule.
The lesson of the night: hearing Scalia in front of a room full of supporters is a frightening experience.