Scalia: Constitution Doesn't Prohibit Sex Discrimination

Supreme Court justice raises ire with 14th Amendment interpretation

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 4, 2011 2:43 AM CST | Updated Jan 4, 2011 6:58 AM CST

(Newser) – The 14th Amendment's equal protection clause doesn't prohibit discrimination against women and gays, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. "Nobody ever thought that's what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that" when the amendment was proposed in 1868, the Reagan appointee tells California Lawyer. "If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws."

Scalia has long been known for his rigid interpretation of the Constitution, but his latest pronouncement is causing plenty of controversy. Scalia is saying "there's nothing the court will do to protect women from government-sanctioned discrimination against them," the founder of the National Women's Law Center tells the Huffington Post. "And that's a pretty shocking position to take in 2011. It's especially shocking in light of the decades of precedents and the numbers of justices who have agreed that there is protection in the 14th Amendment against sex discrimination, and struck down many, many laws in many, many areas on the basis of that protection."

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia poses for last year's group portrait of the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia poses for last year's group portrait of the Supreme Court.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

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