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The lady doth protest too much, methinks

By Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J. (articles ) | Jul 06, 2003

Card-carrying intellectual Anna Quindlen joins Maureen Dowd in crayoning for us in bright orange letters that she is not, repeat not, in the least rattled by the reasoning of Justice Scalia's dissent:

The most notable aspect of Scalia's decision was not its prejudice or its prurience but its politics. His words were openly partisan, designed to call to arms the social conservatives who have long insisted that an activist court is the aim only of the left. ... Actually, the good news is that the reaction to the decision showed how far out on a right wing Scalia has gone. ... When Scalia shuddered, "What a massive disruption of the current social order," he seemed to be channeling the social order of the 18th century.

Anna dear, what's all the fuss about? If Scalia is the oddball you make him out to be, if he is merely penning ineffectual nonsense that convinces no one, why not sit back and enjoy the show, much as the "great right-wing conspiracy" enjoyed watching Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders score her wonderful series of own-goals against the Clinton administration? Why this elaborate affectation of confidence that you own the future? During the Bork confirmation hearings, an ACLU lawyer was reciting the party line about Bork's judicial extremism when David Broder -- no conservative, he -- checked the hyperbole by saying, "Wait a minute. You're worried about 5-4 decisions, not 8-1 decisions." Bull's eye. The intellectual feebleness of the majority opinion in Lawrence is an acute embarrassment to its supporters, with even Andrew Sullivan and Jeffrey Rosen fingering their collars uneasily and casting about for a plausible line of defense. Scalia's well-articulated contempt for the majority's reasoning scored a large number of hits, and it is likely that his derisive reference to Casey's "sweet-mystery-of-life passage" will become an enduring catchphrase in law schools and courtrooms, viz., as a synonym for fatuous and disingenuous emotivism. Quindlen's and Dowd's cock-a-doodle of victory sounds hollow, because at some level they must sense the fragility of the victory itself. Their sneers at Scalia, like those of Robert Bork's earlier detractors, being singularly ill-aimed, exemplify the very fear they pretend to scoff at.

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