I’ve written several times before about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, most recently about his thinking that torture is OK. That one was pretty scary. Well, in NPR’s report about yesterday’s death-penalty cases, he frightens us again, perhaps outdoing himself this time. Here’s how Nina Totenberg relates it, about 6:50 into the audio:
Justice Breyer: If we open the door to the death penalty for non-homicide crimes, states will start allowing it for all kinds of crimes — things that are very serious, but do not involve death.
Justice Scalia, triumphantly: Just the way it used to be!
Justice Breyer, caustically: Perhaps 200 years ago, that was true.
Triumphantly, indeed. It seems clear that had he been around in 17th-century Salem, the hangings wouldn’t have stopped at nineteen.
Whatever one thinks of this particular case — whether the brutal rape of a young girl should be a capital crime — Justice Scalia’s interest in returning to “the way it used to be” should frighten one to the core.
The man has the rest of his life to terrorize us from the Supreme Court bench... and he’s a healthy 72 years old.