Scalia yells at cloud, doesn’t care about the judgment of history

Justice Antonin Scalia did a lengthy interview recently, and it’s a doozy. It’s more than a little disconcerting that the fate of the world’s most powerful democracy is in the hands of a dangerously disconnected crank who thinks flogging probably is OK, but obsesses over “ladies” using vulgar language; thinks Facebook is “strange” but that the Devil has gotten too smart to possess people directly these days.

But perhaps more disconcerting than any of that is his disregard for the future judgment of history. People with a great deal of power are typically concerned about their legacy–or at least should be amenable to appeals to their consciences in view of how history will judge them. Not so Scalia:

He said he realizes he could end up on the wrong side of history on the gay rights issue, but he doesn’t mind – or on other conservative issues he champions.
‘You know, for all I know, 50 years from now I may be the Justice Sutherland of the late-twentieth and early-21st century, who’s regarded as: “He was on the losing side of everything, an old fogey, the old view.” And I don’t care,’ he said.

If someone doesn’t care if they understand the world they live in and doesn’t care how they’ll remembered after they’re gone, they probably shouldn’t have any power at all. That’s a dangerous combination.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.