The Daily Gamecock

Supreme Court does not 'invent' new minorities

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments make no sense, are offensive

If you look up the definition of a minority in the dictionary, then I’m pretty sure you’ll see a picture of me. Due to a series of random factors outside of my immediate control, I just so happened to be born as a gay male to two African-American parents. Later on in life, while growing up both down South and up North, I discovered I had a speech impediment and I began to call myself a card-carrying Republican.

If you take each of these categories I fall into individually, you’ll find that as a whole, gay people (3.5 percent), men (49.2 percent), people who live on the East Coast (35.07 percent) , people who have speech impediments (5 percent) and people who describe themselves as Republicans (42 percent) only represent a minority of the American population. So, as a major minority, I was a little offended by Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s speech from Aug. 19, where he accuses the Supreme Court of “inventing” new minorities.

In his speech, which was sponsored by the Federalist Society, Scalia somehow jumped to the egregious conclusion that the Supreme Court has been creating new classes of minorities and giving them special protections, which he says it shouldn’t do unless the majority of people agree with them.

Continuing to make thinly-veiled references to his disagreement with the Court’s recent rulings on same-sex marriage, he said that Congress used to make decisions regarding the rights of minorities vis-à-vis changes to the Constitution itself.

I find it strangely ironic that a presumably intelligent man who is charged with upholding the Constitution can fail to comprehend the very definition of “minority,” managed to misinterpret his very own job description and also was so ignorant of even the past 60 years of Supreme Court judicial rulings and their subsequent impact on Congress, let alone the ramifications of his very own decisions in his quarter-century on the bench.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word “minority” simply refers to a part of a population differing from others in some characteristics and often subjected to differential treatment, or in Scalia’s case, anyone who dares to be different from someone like him.
Looking back through the lens of history, it’s a little odd to think that as a white, second-generation, Roman-Catholic, Sicilian-American male, he is perhaps the least sympathetic to the plights of fellow minorities.

Take for example the Supreme Court’s ruling in such cases as 1954’s “Brown v. Board of Education,” 1966’s “Miranda v. Arizona,” 2000’s “Bush v. Gore” or even 2003’s “Lawrence v. Texas.” In each of these four rulings, a plaintiff representing a minority argument argued that existing laws were unconstitutional and the Supreme Court agreed with them.

Afterwards, Congress then updated law books in order to better reflect the views of both the majority of the bench and the minority views of the plaintiff.

In order, these four Supreme Court rulings above led to the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, mandated that police adequately inform those accused of a crime of their constitutional rights, allowed George W. Bush to become our nation’s 43rd president and declared Texas and 13 other states’ outdated and homophobic laws banning sodomy unconstitutional.

These rulings and the subsequent actions by Congress fall neatly in line with what we all should have learned back in elementary school: the role of the Supreme Court is to interpret the law, while Congress reframes or even creates new legislation; it’s simply how our government works.

(For the record, Mr. Scalia was a part of the last two cases, expressing a majority view for the Bush v. Gore case, but voiced a minority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas.)

But back to the main issue at hand, Scalia’s claim that the Supreme Court all of a sudden “invent new classes of minorities” is not only without merit, but also inane, illogical and deeply flawed.

Sorry, Scalia, but minorities exist all on their own, and trivializing their plight is offensive and just plain wrong. All the Supreme Court has done is reinforce the existing rights of people who, like you, me and even Scalia himself have been denied in some way, shape or form over the course of time.

Instead of wasting his breath on factually baseless claims, I think it would be in all of our best interests if Scalia went on his merry way and did his job — after, of course, he makes sure exactly what his job is.