CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) – Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia painted a grim view of the American judicial system on Tuesday, saying politicized judges engaging in “abstract moralizing” have led to overly-powerful judges.

Some decisions, such as abortion and assisted suicide, are “too fundamental” to be logically resolved by a court, he said.

“What I am questioning is the propriety, indeed the sanity, of having value-laden decisions such as these made for the entire society … by judges,” Scalia said on Tuesday during an appearance at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

In some cases – and in response to a question from the audience, he acknowledged Brown vs. Board of Education was one – there is a societal benefit when a court rules against prevailing popular opinion, but generally speaking it is fundamentally bad for democracy, he said.

While Scalia never mentioned the gay marriage issue specifically, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has come under fire nationally for overstepping its authority on the issue. The SJC ruled last year that gay couples constitutionally could not be denied marriage licenses. The decision paved the way for the nation’s first state-sanctioned same-sex marriages.

Scalia thinks the Constitution should be a static legal document and not a “living document” open to interpretation by judges.

“We developed the doctrine that the meaning of the Constitution reflects the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society,” he said.

“The framers expected that they were adopting a legal document and they expected the courts to enforce the Constitution,” he said.

The power to make those decisions ultimately lies with the people. “I believe in liberal democracy, which is a democracy that worries about the tyranny of the majority, but it is the majority itself that must draw the lines,” he said.

As an example, he used the women’s suffrage movement, which was the result of the will of the people, not a court.

When asked about why he refused to step aside in a case involving Vice President Dick Cheney when the two had gone duck hunting together, at first refused to talk about the issue, but then said there was no legal precedent for recusal and that any controversy was whipped up by the media.


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