Speaking to a San Francisco law school on Friday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee gay people protection against discrimination. And the same goes for women.
“If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, you have legislatures,” Scalia said during a 90-minute question-and-answer session with a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law. He said the same was true of discrimination against gays and lesbians. The 74-year-old justice, leader of the court’s conservative wing, is also its most outspoken advocate of “originalism,” the doctrine that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the original meaning of those who drafted it. The court has ruled since the early 1970s that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws applies to sex discrimination, requiring a strong justification for any law that treated the genders differently. That interpretation, Scalia declared Friday, was not intended by the authors of the amendment that was ratified in 1868 in the aftermath of the Civil War.
In the landmark 2003 Supreme Court ruling overturning laws against sodomy, Lawrence vs. Texas, Scalia was the most vehement dissenting vote.