I had heard that Scalia wants to strike down the Voting Rights Act, but I didn’t know how off the wall he had gotten until I read Dana Milbank this morning —
The acerbic Scalia, the court’s longest-serving justice, got his latest comeuppance Wednesday morning, as he tried to make the absurd argument that Congress’s renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 2006 by votes of 98 to 0 in the Senate and 390 to 33 in the House did not mean that Congress actually supported the act. Scalia, assuming powers of clairvoyance, argued that the lawmakers were secretly afraid to vote against this “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
Kagan wasn’t about to let him get away with that. In a breach of decorum, she interrupted his questioning of counsel to argue with him directly. “Well, that sounds like a good argument to me, Justice Scalia,” she said. “It was clear to 98 senators, including every senator from a covered state, who decided that there was a continuing need for this piece of legislation.”
Scalia replied to Kagan, “Or decided that perhaps they’d better not vote against it, that there’s nothing, that there’s no — none of their interests in voting against it.”
You may need to read that two or three times to get the full impact of what Scalia is saying here. Joan Walsh quotes him some more:
I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution …They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful: The Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?
In other words, he seems to think he would be doing Congress a favor by striking down the Voting Rights Act, because then they wouldn’t have to keep voting for this law they secretly don’t like but lack the courage to say so.
Scalia has said several things lately that are not just right-wing but even lack internal cohesion. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Constitution provides for forcing justices to retire because of dementia.