Supreme Court justice asks 'who decides' on marriage definition

by Vanessa Rodriguez, |
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent in the Defense of Marriage Act decision has been cited by a number of judges in ruling against the legalization of same-sex marriages. | FACEBOOK/Justice Antonin Scalia

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) -- Conservatives hoping to see the Supreme Court rule against legalization of same-sex marriage this spring are likely counting on Justice Antonin Scalia's vote. Scalia remarked during a National Public Radio forum at George Washington University Friday, Feb. 13, that the issue is not about individual rights but whether a court can overrule the will of the people.

Scalia was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Washington Blade reported Scalia as explaining to the audience of more than 1,400 individuals, that the issues of gay rights, abortion, and other opinion splitting matters were less about the issues themselves and more about who decides.

"The issue of gay rights, on abortion, on many of the issues in which Ruth's opinions and mine differ does not pertain to the substance," he said.

"It doesn't pertain to whether gay people ought to have those rights or whether there ought to be a constitutional right or a right to an abortion. That isn't the issue. The issue is who decides," he said before continuing with a question on the appropriateness of the Supreme Court's involvement on the issues.

"Should these decisions be made by the Supreme Court without any text in the Constitution or any history in the Constitution to support imposing on the whole country or is it a matter left to the people?"

Still, the long-standing Supreme Court Justice was quick to ask those present not to label him for his conservative views.

"But don't paint me as anti-gay or anti-abortion or anything else," he added. "All I'm doing on the Supreme Court is opining about who should decide."

Ginsburg suggested that "the people" and societal change were the reason behind recent court rulings on marriage discrimination and LGBT rights.

Scalia did not debate Ginsburg's claim regarding societal change. He did however state he believed the Constitution is an enduring document not meant to be subject to "whimsical change," CNN reported.

Scalia's dissent in the Defense of Marriage Act decision has been used by a number of judges as justification to rule against same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court is expected to decide the constitutionality of voter-approved marriage protection amendments sometime before June.