Nino Down Under

February 4th, 2011

Justice Scalia spoke at Adelaide University in Australia. While he will not cite foreign law in his opinions, he sure has some strong opinions about these laws–namely about the European Union. From the Australian:

“The views I express aren’t necessarily the views of the government of the United States or of the Supreme Court . . . my views are often not their views,” Justice Scalia said.

He then declared his distaste for the workings of the European Union.

“The European Union is the most obvious example of how democratic choice can produce reduced democracy,” he said.

“Some member states joined the union from popularly ratified treaties . . . but its effect has, nonetheless, reduced democratic choice.

“To be sure, it has an elected parliament. But as a practical matter its edicts are determined by an unelected commission, and interpreted and enforced by an unelected court.

“In this system . . . even the national constitutions of member states can be overwritten by bureaucratic directors resting on nothing more than the say-so of officials in Brussels.”

But philosophical jousting aside, Justice Scalia was most scathing of the European Court of Human Rights, which he said lacked the democratic authority to rule on controversial topics like same-sex marriage and abortion.

“They are often the controversial topics on which domestic elections are won or lost,” Justice Scalia said. “It is a prescription for the elimination of democracy to establish a court that is to provide binding and authoritative answers to these questions.”

Unelected courts! Imagine, the chutzpah of a system like that.

Justice Scalia did have this to say about economic policy (and I would argue economic liberty in general):

“We would never think of leaving questions of economic policy to judges because in that field there is plenty of room for debate.

“That same attitude of moral certainty explains why the Europeans are so self-righteously critical of the United States with respect to capital punishment.”