Scalia Is Wrong: The Constitution Prohibits Torture and GOP Civil Rights Violations

supreme court scalia

Since it was first revealed that George W. Bush authorized and approved the use of torture, Republicans and so-called “patriots” condemned the criticism against the illegal acts as despicable, self-righteous whining from un-American traitors. Conservatives have proffered every possible scenario to justify torture, including Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s invoking a fictional television counter-terrorism agent, Jack Bauer, torturing alleged terror suspects to stop a fictional attack on America.  In fact, the Supreme Court jurist asked, “Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so,” so obviously, in Scalia’s mind torture is not wrong because it is legal on television.

Last week, Scalia reiterated his support for torture in an interview with Radio Television Suisse in response to the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Bush-directed CIA torture of “suspected” Islamic terrorists. According to Scalia, although there are U.S. laws against torture, it is still perfectly legal and acceptable because there is nothing in the United States Constitution that prohibits torture of suspected terrorists. “I don’t know what article of the Constitution that would contravene, so I don’t think it’s so clear at all. Listen, I think it’s very facile for people to say, ‘Oh, torture is terrible.’ You think it’s clear that you cannot use extreme measures to get information out of a suspected terrorist?”

The so-called Constitutional originalist, and alleged scholar, Scalia, has once again revealed he is as ignorant of the nation’s founding document as he is vacant of compassion for anyone but evangelical extremists and the Koch brothers. In an effort to protect convicted war criminals George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Bush’s national security team, Scalia claimed because the words “do not torture” are not in the Constitution that Americans can torture captured enemy combatants, innocent Muslims, or American citizens with impunity. Any so-called American citizen that supports and defends torture is a humiliation to this country, but for a Supreme Court Justice to make such an absurd remark is an abomination. Worse, Antonin Scalia is patently incorrect.

It is too bad that Scalia’s reading of the Constitution is limited to serving the uber-rich, corporate fascists, and religious extremists, because if he actually read the document sans his Koch-Vatican blinders on, he would know the Constitution does, in fact, prohibit torture; among a variety of human rights violations his conservative cohorts on the High Court and Republicans fervently support.

In Article Six, Clause 2 of the Constitution, it clearly states that, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby.”  Therefore, since the U.N. Convention on Torture, and the Geneva Conventions, expressly prohibits torture in any form and for any reason, and because those documents are valid treaties America signed after ratification in the U.S. Senate, Article Six makes “the prohibition on torture the Supreme Law of the Land.” Plus, there is also the Eighth Amendment that prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments;” particularly of “suspected criminal” activity or “alleged terror suspects.” One would think that Scalia has, at a minimum, read all Ten of the amendments in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights; he certainly read, and helped demolish the 1st Amendment’s Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses.

As a matter of fact, there are myriadsupreme laws of the land” that Republicans violate with impunity ranging from discrimination against women, people of color, and particularly a plethora of Civil and Human Rights violations; many of which Scalia’s conservative cohort on the Supreme Court are guilty of violating. Especially their defense of and re-establishment of Jim Crow laws giving former confederate states the right restrict Constitutional voting rights of people of color.  The High Court’s racist conservatives violated The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1994) when they eviscerated the Voting Rights Act giving Republicans free reign to restrict African Americans’ voting rights.  What is curious, is why the Department of Justice has not raised the specter of the High Court’s violations of many, many “supreme laws of the land,” or myriad Republican violations of treaties this nation signed prohibiting blatant discrimination; particularly against women.

Every time Republicans block passage of “equal pay for equal work” legislation, they are discriminating against women and violating “The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1980). Republicans are also guilty of violating the International Covenant on Economic, Social, Cultural Rights (1992) because they have blocked passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). When the High Court’s Vatican-5 discriminated against women by giving religious employers the right to discriminate against women in the Catholic Hobby Lobby ruling, they violated the Establishment Clause as well as the Convention against all forms of discrimination against women and no-one will do anything because Christianity.

There are far too many instances of this country’s, primarily Republican-motivated, violations of supreme laws of the land to list in one article. But everything from Detroit claiming residents have no basic human right to clean water and sanitation to the criminalizing homelessness to withholding food and shelter from children to the racially motivated disparate stop and frisk, arrest, conviction, and incarceration of African Americans. And most recently the blatant racially-motivated murders of unarmed African American boys and young men by racist law enforcement are all violations of valid supreme laws of the land.

The prohibition of torture is no different and for Scalia to claim there is no prohibition in the Constitution is not only symptomatic of his ignorance of the Constitution, but his conservative mind’s  blatant disregard for federal law and obvious contempt for provisions in Article Six, Clause 2 that make international prohibitions against torture the Supreme Law of the Land. Article Six also demands that this country arrests Bush, Cheney, and their co-conspirators from the top down and hand them over to the international court for authorizing and conducting torture that, regardless what Scalia or Republicans claim is a violation of American and International law according to the United States Constitution. And, because Scalia has made giving to war criminals legal cover for violating American and international law, he is complicit and gets a trip to The Hague with his “Jack Bauer” heroes.

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35 Replies to “Scalia Is Wrong: The Constitution Prohibits Torture and GOP Civil Rights Violations”

  1. One little nit-pick. Scalia no longer has Vatican blinders, as he pretty much has rejected the current Pope as having any legitimacy as a leader of the Catholic Church. There is little doubt the current Church is fully against torture and, in fact, is against most (though not all) of Scalia’s views.

  2. Actually, I know exactly how he is prepared to Bork all these protections out of existence, and we may rest assured that once the plutonomists have seized all three branches of government, it will happen. Sound discretion makes me hesitate to describe it, but I may return to it later.

  3. Since the TPGOP party cherry picks the Bible, they now cherry pick the Constitution. What ever happened to common sense? Is there none left in todays world?

  4. This is no surprise. Fat Tony is a member of Opus Dei. He would not find the methods of the Spanish Inquisition to be objectionable.

  5. Um, since when is the UN under the “Authority” of the US?

    That would make this entire article invalid.

    We are charter members, indeed, but have no direct authority over what the UN does.

  6. Did you fail civics in summer school?
    Article VI

    This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
    What part of that you don’t understand?

  7. a texas prison warden was prosecuted,for waterboarding by the Ronald Reagean D O J…. after ww,2 several Japanese Officers were executed for the war crime of WATERBOARDING,,,,SCALIA IS A LIER

  8. Did you not read the article? There is nothing in it that says the U.N. is under American authority. What it says is that America is bound to adhere to the treaties and conventions, U.N. or otherwise, it is a signatory to according to Article VI, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The article belabors that point to death and you still got it wrong. Wait, is that you Scalia?

  9. He would do it like this:
    A. Interrogation prior to conviction is not “punishment”.
    B. Under the self-incriminstion clause, “fruit of the poison tree” doctrine does not bar evidence that would have been discovered anyway (there is already SCt precedent for this).
    C. The Eighth Amendment prohibits only punishment that is cruel *and* unusual. If it is usual, it’s not prohibited.
    D. Detention of these “combatants” is “administrative”, and therefore not subject to the same level of scrutiny as detention within the criminal justice system.
    E. Detainees who die under these circumstances have therefore not been deprived of life without due process, as contemplated by the Fifth Amendment. They have merely had an administrative freeze placed on their biological processes.

    Except for E, I have already seen these arguments made by the Reagan Administration.

  10. Scalia’s claim to be a strict constitutionalist is a joke. His interpretation of the Constitution was given to him by the Koch brothers.

  11. the theocrats are trying to make our Constitution the new bible. Sacred words that only the chosen few can interpret to the rest of the illiterate, unwashed masses. That’s why they kneecap education at every turn.
    Knowledge makes a people unfit for slavery.

  12. How can one respect a (this) member of the Supreme Court, referring to a character on a TV show that uses torture to get answers from his “Terrorist” detainees in the make believe world of Television Drama, as his benchmark or yard stick for condoning torture? How? Sounds Mickey Mousy to me.

  13. Rmuse – thank you – I am not insane. Best article on Rights and how badly they have been violated.
    My first response to Scalia’s arguments over the years is I don’t think he thinks the Bill of Rights is part of the Constitution.
    The next question is what can we do to get him off the court?

  14. Republicans can sound out the words they read, but they are seriously lacking when it comes to comprehension. I think it is a real mental block that they have as that also explains how they can read the bible and still not understand what they are reading.

  15. In fact, Bush has already cancelled a trip to Switzerland because he may face arrest.

    I add: Bush,Cheney, Rumsfeld,and Yoo were all convicted by a tribunal sitting in Kuala Lumpoor, Malaysia. Any signatory to the U.N. Convention on Torture can arrest them.

  16. This isn’t the first time that Scalia shows his ignorance of the Constitution. He’s done this a number of times, if I remember correctly. It makes one wonder how he made it to the Supreme Court and whether his opinions both written and verbally expressed, could be trusted. (I can’t remember who suggested him for appointment to the SCOTUS.)

  17. (I can’t remember who suggested him for appointment to the SCOTUS.)
    ————————————

    The gift that just keeps on giving. Ronald Reagan

  18. The torture argument really gets muddled with a lot of “what if’s-
    Jack Bauer stuff” and “it works” mentality. Both arguments miss the point.
    The US is committed to not torturing people – period.
    Various treaties ( Geneva Convention) and national and international laws and agreements ban torture.
    A recent poll shows 51% of Americans are in favor of torture.
    The US should resign from all treaties etc that ban torture and quit living the lie– Nice USA and bad everyone else.
    We have met the enemy and the enemy is us.

  19. In fact, the proper course (if one calls it that) for not abiding by a treaty or a convention is to openly denounce it. I recall that during WW II, General Jodl was against openly denouncing the Geneva Conventions because he wanted German POWs treated civilly by the Allies, while the Reich was secretly treating Allied POWs any way it chose.

    They hanged him at Nürnberg.

  20. Hmmm. I guess we all overlooked the asterisk within the Bill of Rights which states:
    “except when inconvenient.”

  21. Well the father of YOUR country had other thoughts
    “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.” — George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775

    But then again who cares about that

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