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FUMARE

Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, June 27, 2005

"The dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority..."

From Scalia's dissent in the McCreary County v. ACLU [PDF] case this morning (hat tip to K-Lo for highlighting the passage):
What distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority is the absolutely indispensable requirement that judicial opinions be grounded in consistently applied principle. That is what prevents judges from ruling now this way, now that thumbs up or thumbs down as their personal preferences dictate. Today's opinion forthrightly (or actually, somewhat less than forthrightly) admits that it does not rest upon consistently applied principle. In a revealing footnote, ante, at 11, n. 10, the Court acknowledges that the Establishment Clause doctrine it purports to be applying lacks the comfort of categorical absolutes. What the Court means by this lovely euphemism is that sometimes the Court chooses to decide cases on the principle that government cannot favor religion, and sometimes it does not. The footnote goes on to say that [i]n special instances we have found good reason to dispense with the principle, but [n]o such reasons present themselves here. Ibid. It does not identify all of those special instances, much less identify the good reason for their existence.
It doesn't take an Amish homeschooler or an unemployed peyote-smoking Native American to figure out that today's rulings have made things less clear when it comes to the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Just how much damage might have been done by the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority remains to be seen.

On a related note, I wonder how much excessive entanglement presents itself when the dissent paraphrases the "Dictatorship of Relativism" label coined by our new pontiff, Benedict XVI? Looks like an endorsement to me!

N.B. Click here for more on today's rulings.

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