From Raw Story:
One of the most conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court and one of the most liberal ones sparred Friday over capital punishment, the direct election of senators and various other constitutional questions during a rare public debate that highlighted their philosophical differences.Antonin Scalia, 74, the longest-serving current justice, appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, and Stephen Breyer, 72, appointed by Democrat Bill Clinton, shared the stage in front of a crowd of thousands during a West Texas event organized by Texas Tech University Law School.
Regarding the death penalty, Tony the Duck Hunter opined:
“There’s not an ounceworth of room for debate as to whether it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment because, at the time the Eighth Amendment was adopted — the cruel and unusual punishments clause — it was the only punishment for a felony.”
Well, that’s actually bullshit. There was this little thing called ‘transportation.’ That’s mostly associated with Australia of course, but it got started with forcible transportaion to England’s American colonies….
you know, back when the entities that would come up with the U.S. Constitution were still, um…, English colonies?
But wait, there’s more.
Scalia said he has no interest in what legislators intended when making a particular law. Breyer countered, saying judges need to go back and find out the purpose legislators had when crafting a bill.
“I don’t at all look to what I think the legislature thought,” Scalia said. “I frankly don’t care what the legislature thought.”
Breyer responded quickly, saying, “That’s the problem,” which brought thunderous laughter from the crowd.
“You’ve got to go back to the purpose of the legislation, find out what’s there,” Breyer said. “That’s the democratic way, cause you can then hold that legislature responsible, rather than us, who you can’t control.”
He keeps an eighteenth century dictionary on his desk to somehow ascertain the meaning of words that appear in the Constitution (though, apparently, not to ascertain intent?), yet he doesn’t give a shit about the intent behind laws made since then – laws which often establish meaning via addressing matters previously addressed by law.
Translation: He of the plutocracy bloc of the court gets to make up whatever meaning he wants to make up in order to do the bidding of Walton and Koch families.
Remind me again why this character is still allowed to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court?