Senator (it pains me to think that he is a Senator) Al Franken had the temerity (brass balls) to question Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s understanding of the Constitution. Yep, you read that right, “Stuart Smalley” of Saturday Night Live fame – a comedian – asserted that Justice Scalia had a very different view of the Constitution than he did – implying that Franken’s view was right and Scalia’s was wrong.
Mr. Franken (I refuse to honor him with the title “Senator”) wasn’t funny as a comedian (I remember him) and he’s apparently still trying to be funny when he compares his interpretation of our Constitution with an educated and experienced Supreme Court Justice. I can hardly believe that he said that publically; his dumbassity knows no bounds.
Mr. Franken questioned the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s understanding of the Constitution on Monday during the confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominee to the high court, Judge Neil Gorsuch.
Franken said that Scalia “embraced a rigid view of our Constitution, a view blind to the equal dignity of LGBT people, and hostile to women’s reproductive rights, and a view that often refused to acknowledge the lingering laws and policies that perpetuate the racial divide.” He continued, “the document he revered looks very different from the one I have sworn to defend.”
Of that, I have no doubt.
Scalia, who unexpectedly passed away last February, served on the Supreme Court for three decades. Prior to serving on the nation’s highest court, Scalia was appointed Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section of Administrative Law from 1981 to 1982 and served as a senior figure in the Justice Department in the 1970s. The late Supreme Court justice previously was a professor at multiple top law schools and received his law degree from Harvard University.
Scalia graduated valedictorian and summa cum laude in 1957 from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Arts in history. While in college, he was a champion collegiate debater in Georgetown’s Philodemic Society and a critically praised thespian. He took his junior year abroad at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Scalia studied law at Harvard Law School, where he was a Notes Editor for the Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1960, becoming a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University.
Scalia believed that the ordinary meaning of a statute should govern. In 1998, Scalia vociferously opposed the idea of a living constitution, or the power of the judiciary to modify the meaning of constitutional provisions to adapt them to changing times. Scalia warned that if one accepted that constitutional standards should evolve with a maturing society, “the risk of assessing evolving standards is that it is all too easy to believe that evolution has culminated in one’s own views”. He compared the Constitution to statutes he contended were not understood to change their meaning through time.
On the other hand, Franken attended Harvard College, the liberal arts undergraduate college, independent of Harvard University, where he graduated with a B.A. in government.
He was a writer and occasional performer on Saturday Night Live between 1975-80 and 1985-95 where he wrote comedy sketches and occasionally performed in them. He also wrote and starred in a movie, Stuart Saves His Family, which was a critical and commercial failure. He also hosted a “progressive” talk radio show on Air America for three years and occasionally contributes to The Huffington Post.
He won election to the Senate in 2008 during a contentious election battle with Norm Coleman. Election night results had Coleman winning by over 700 votes, but by the time the votes were certified, Coleman’s lead had been reduced to 215 votes. Over the coming weeks, recount after recount were done when ballots kept (magically) appearing or ballots were challenged until finally, Franken was certified as the winner by 312 votes. Cries of foul play were rampant, and numerous challenges were brought, but Franken was sworn in as Senator in July of 2009.
Stuart Smalley Al Franken is a United States Senator, will wonders never cease.
I guess that Franken should be given credit for a satirical comparison of his interpretation of the Constitution with that of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia – it would be funny if it wasn’t so ludicrous.
A “day after” update: Each time I read the piece, one statement by Scalia jumps out and I think that it captures nicely why the Constitution can’t be interpreted as a “living” document. He said, “the risk of assessing evolving standards is that it is all too easy to believe that evolution has culminated in one’s own views“. I think that nails it.