Justice Antonin Scalia Misusing Catholic Faith to Promote Anti-Gay Bias

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Just weeks ago, Pope Francis shook up the Catholic Church with a wide-ranging and welcome interview that included positive words about gay and lesbian people. Now, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is making waves in an interview with New York Magazine where he speaks about his Catholic faith and homosexuality.

Justice Scalia is normally an outspoken Catholic, but he offered little when asked about Pope Francis. The interviewer pressed him on the issue of homosexuality, asking (New York Magazine’s questions are in bold):

“I was wondering what kind of personal exposure you might have had to this sea change [of LGBT rights].

“I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual. Everybody does.

“Have any of them come out to you?

“No. No. Not that I know of.”

He is asked in the interview whether his views on homosexuality have “softened” given the pope’s new welcome of gay and lesbian people, but Scalia is unable to understand how they could soften because in his mind the issue is set Catholic doctrine. The interviewer asks how these personal views affect his role on the Supreme Court, and Scalia answers:

“I still think it’s Catholic teaching that [homosexuality is] wrong. Okay? But I don’t hate the people that engage in it. In my legal opinions, all I’ve said is that I don’t think the Constitution requires the people to adopt one view or the other…

“Maybe the world is spinning toward a wider acceptance of homosexual rights, and here’s Scalia, standing athwart it. At least standing athwart it as a constitutional entitlement. But I have never been custodian of my legacy. When I’m dead and gone, I’ll either be sublimely happy or terribly unhappy.”

He pivots from here into a lengthy discussion of heaven and hell, the Devil, and atheism, all of which you can find here.

Yet, as a justice on the US’ top court and a prominent Catholic, Scalia’s record on LGBT issues is less “standing athwart” on legal grounds and more a clearly defined legacy of anti-gay bias rooted in his understanding of the Catholic faith.

Right Wing Watch offers a rundown of Scalia’s harshest moments against the LGBT community, as when he previously compared homosexuality to murder and cruelty against animals or when he wrote a scathing opinion in Lawrence v. Texas that would justify discrimination against gay people. Then there is the unusual step the justice took in reading aloud from the bench his blistering dissent when the Supreme Court struck down DOMA this past June.

It appears Pope Francis’ effect on Justice Scalia is minimal given the New York Magazine interview, and it is doubtful the justice would act like other Catholics on the court in endorsing the rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is also clear in his language that Scalia continues to view homosexuality in terms of sexual acts, instead of as an integral part of a person’s identity. It is telling that someone as well-connected as the justice claims to know no gay people personally, and does little to show compassion, sensitivity, or respect for them as the Church asks of him.

With LGBT rights expanding in the US and Pope Francis preaching words of welcome, the moment is prime for the justice to reconsider how he speaks about and interacts with gay people. Perhaps acknowledging those he knows who are LGBT identified is a start. Perhaps he could consider aspects of his Catholic faith, like the dignity of each person and the common good pf all, when it comes to homosexuality. Perhaps he could simply start by echoing Pope Francis’ words in interviews and say, “Who am I to judge?

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

8 replies
  1. Friends
    Friends says:

    Let me tell you my own Scalia story. Several years ago, Scalia’s daughter Margaret graduated from Amherst College, where I have strong connections, since I’m a Yale grad school alumnus who lives in the Amherst area. A group of conservative Amherst College students invited Scalia to address them in an informal seminar on the day before graduation. However, one of Amherst’s own honorary degree recipients — a prominent documentary filmmaker — heard about the event, showed up personally, and proceeded to disembowel Scalia for all of the despicable, socially retrograde and hateful positions he’s taken in his position on the Court. The Young Republicans’ rump meeting broke up in total disarray — and Scalia’s daughter was very visibly furious off when she received her degree the next day. Score one for the good guys.

  2. duckman44625
    duckman44625 says:

    From what I can glean from reading some of Justice Scalia’s thoughts…or lack thereof…he is a person who accepts what I term “pablum” Theology – accepting all which the Church has fed to him uncritically – blindly. This has been the traditional Catholic Faith – useful in controlling and “herding” rather than shepherding the Faithful when education/understanding was limited to the few. We have evolved into a “thinking” Faithful who hear what Church teaching has to say but find gaps in it – owing to unreasonable positions, untenable beliefs as they effect daily life and quite frankly – direct contradiction of the Gospels which say nothing of exclusion or condemnation of ANY persons. Jesus Christ taught, breathed, lived acceptance as well as asking us to examine ourselves – how we stood before God. There was one measure to use: DO WE LOVE AS WE ARE LOVED ? Nothing else matters for if we do love – we love God as well by loving His children, His Family. All other extraneous teachings may be, quite frankly – trashed. Namaste

  3. pjnugent
    pjnugent says:

    Scalia doesn’t seem to be much influenced by what Jesus says, why would one think that the Pope might influence him? His son, a diocesan priest in the Washington DC area, seems to be a chip off the old block. He took measures to ensure that the Always Our Children group that meets at the Cathedral of St. Matthew was not allowed to reach out to parishes in the Arlington diocese. He drove our daughter’s family, who are not progressive, out of a parish a number of years ago. We so need to pray for them.

  4. Friends
    Friends says:

    I have no intention to bogart the comments on this thread, but I just happen to have a lot of direct information on the Scalia clan and their hateful antics. Scalia’s son John is a rabidly homophobic Catholic priest, who has made abusive and insulting comments about our GLBT Catholic family. Here’s a link for follow-up information:


  5. Joseph Gentilini
    Joseph Gentilini says:

    I have heard that Scalia’s son is associated with the group, Courage, and so I’m not surprised where Scalia is getting his information.

    • duckman44625
      duckman44625 says:

      If one is a member of a group which is not open to dialogue – considering interpretations which may be contrary to teachings which are founded in faulty or non loving Stances – we can only expect parroting of Scripture or dated teachings – which are rejected by the growing majority of the Faithful – we should fret over babbling a of persons like Scalia – his son or the “group ” – they and their philosophy which is opposed to Christianity and Francis guiding words – will eventually be silenced as we ignore them…


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