What's Wrong With This Picture?
The following is an exerpt from oral argument before the United States Supreme Court on October 5, 2009 in the case of Salazar v. Buono:
JUSTICE SCALIA: The cross doesn't honor non-Christians who fought in the war? Is that -- is that --
MR. ELIASBERG: I believe that's actually correct.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Where does it say that?
MR. ELIASBERG: It doesn't say that, but a cross is the predominant symbol of Christianity and it signifies that Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem mankind for our sins, and I believe that's why the Jewish war veterans --
JUSTICE SCALIA: It's erected as a war memorial. I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead. It's the -- the cross is the -- is the most
common symbol of -- of -- of the resting place of the dead, and it doesn't seem to me -- what would you have them erect? A cross -- some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Moslem half moon and star?
MR. ELIASBERG: Well, Justice Scalia, if I may go to your first point. The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of Christians. I have been in Jewish cemeteries. There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew.
MR. ELIASBERG: So it is the most common symbol to honor Christians.
JUSTICE SCALIA: I don't think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead. I think that's an outrageous conclusion.
MR. ELIASBERG: Well, my -- the point of my -- point here is to say that there is a reason the Jewish war veterans came in and said we don't feel honored by this cross. This cross can't honor us because it is a religious symbol of another religion.
There has been ample online discussion of Justice Scalia's religious myopia here , here and here , but what has been noticeably lacking is outrage.
We are talking about the highest court in our great country. A court where every time a new nominee is sent to the senate the nutcakes come out of the closet to predict doom and gloom to their particular brand of polarized political justice.
Even more galling is that the justice involved wraps himself in the piety of the constitution under the term "original intent."
Let us start by pointing out that no matter how much the Radical and fundamentalist right doth protest, the United States was not born as a "Christian nation." The founding fathers were, for the most part, Deists. They repeatedly and expressly repudiated the notion that the nascent United States was a "Christian nation." It is impossible to adhere to "original intent" without acknowledging this fact.
You may have your religion, whatever that is. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, it does not matter to me --- it's your relationship with a divine being that matters to you.
But don't sit on the bench of the highest court in this land and impose your own myopic views on my justice system and wrap them in some warped sense of "original intent."
The argument of the fallacy of original intent is for another day; but this was an inglorious show of intellectual dishonesty. As it was, the Chief Justice rapidly cut off the discussion before his colleague could embarrass himself further. There should have been more outrage.