U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia visited Houston on Friday and offered his thoughts about Christian morality and economic systems.
The 30-minute lecture explored the question: Is capitalism or socialism more conducive to Christian virtue?
"The cardinal sin of capitalism is greed, but the cardinal sin of socialism is power. I'm not sure there's a clear choice between those evils," Scalia said. "While I would not argue that capitalism as an economic system is inherently more Christian than socialism … it does seem to me that capitalism is more dependent on Christianity than socialism is. For in order for capitalism to work - in order for it to produce a good and a stable society - the traditional Christian virtues are essential."...
Scalia, who is Catholic, discussed how religious orders once took care of orphans and the elderly, which is now done in large part by "salaried social workers" and financed by tax dollars.
"The governmentalization of charity affects not just the donor but also the recipient. What was once asked as a favor is now demanded as an entitlement," he said. "The transformation of charity into legal entitlement has produced donors without love and recipients without gratitude. ... It's not my place or my purpose to criticize these developments, only to observe that they do not suggest the expanding role of government is good for Christianity."
Some of the Q and A:
Q: Have you ever noticed that positions of justices on a particular subject changes or becomes more liberal the longer they stay on the bench?
A: "It's demonstrably false. I've been there longer than anybody and I think I'm further from left than I was. … It is a common phenomenon."
Q: You are so persuasive and logical - why arent' you able to persuade your liberal colleagues?
A: "Most of these issues on which we disagree, it's fundamental stuff. … [People] think most of the time, we are contemplating our navels: 'should there be a right to die,' 'should there be legal abortion' - something that Joe Six-Pack knows the answer to as well as I do. … Most of the time we are doing real law: We're figuring out the meaning of the Bankruptcy Code, the Internal Revenue code. That is hard and really dull stuff."
Q: Evaluate the condition of the Catholic Church in the United States.
A: "I think it's doing OK. It's been around a long time, you know."
Q: Are you a Redskins fan?
A: "I'm not really much of a football fan. To the extent I am, I hate the Redskins. In fact, I always root for Dallas."
Q: How would you handle Syria?
A: "Naw. I shouldn't talk about that. I have strong views on it, though."
Q: What is the constitutional basis for the principal of 'stare decisis' (legal principal of judges respecting the precedent established by prior decisions) and does it play inherently to the socialist?
A: "It is impossible to run a judicial system without it. You can't reinvent the wheel with every case. … The constitution implicitly expects the courts to function in a manner that is not nuts."
Q: What is the greatest miscarriage of constitutional justice during your tenure?
A: "Oh, there are many candidates. … The most disreputable area of our law is the establishment clause. (Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.) … A violation of the establishment clause that does not affect someone's free exercise - there is no reason why you should have standing.
Meantime, Justice Ginsburg was speaking too:
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who recently officiated at a friend's same-sex wedding, told a Philadelphia audience Friday that growing acceptance of gay marriage reflects the "genius" of the U.S. Constitution.
Ginsburg said equality has always been central to the Constitution, even if society has only applied it to minorities - be they women, blacks or gays - over time."So I see the genius of our Constitution, and of our society, is how much more embracive we have become than we were at the beginning," Ginsburg said in a far-ranging discussion of her work at the National Constitution Center, steps from the nation's founding at Independence Hall.... Ginsburg has often been on the losing side of the epic battles, but said some would have turned out differently had the first female justice, Sandra Day O'Connor, not retired in 2006."The year she left us, in every case where I was among the four, if she had remained, I would have been among the five. So her leaving the court made an enormous difference," Ginsburg said.Ginsburg criticized her majority colleagues for what she called "activist" decisions that overturned laws better understood by Congress, such as the Voting Rights Act, which had been extended by a series of bipartisan presidents, most recently George W. Bush."That's an example of striking down legislation on a subject that the people in the political arena are better informed about than the court is," she said.Ginsburg, 80, gave no hint she would wind down her judicial career anytime soon, noting that the fall docket includes such important issues as campaign finance limits and affirmative action. And, despite her sharp ideological differences with some colleagues, including close friend Antonin Scalia, she said their work environment remains cordial."One of the hallmarks of the court is collegiality," Ginsburg said. "You could not do the job that the Constitution gives to us if you didn't, to use one of Justice Scalia's favorite expressions, `Get over it.'"
Closer to home, the psychic trial is still going. Paula McMahon is covering it with her last two articles here and here. You can't beat the headlines:
"Psychic dictated messages from Brad Pitt and Colin Powell, witness testifies"
"Dead husband's frozen sperm did not sire a child, psychic's client says she was told"
The articles are fun reads.