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 myriad “supreme 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.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.