Politics & Government

In New Orleans, Scalia criticizes other justices over meaning of religious freedom

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Archbishop Rummel High School, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Metairie, La. (Brett Duke/NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP)
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Archbishop Rummel High School, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Metairie, La. (Brett Duke/NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP) AP

Speaking Saturday at a Catholic high school in Metairie, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia criticized other members of the court for what he said is a false understanding of the nature of religious freedom and the relationship between church and state.

He said the idea that government must be neutral between religion and unbelief is not grounded in the country's constitutional traditions and that God has been good to the United States because Americans honor him.

Scalia was speaking at Archbishop Rummel High School at an event sponsored by the school and Catholic Community Radio as an early commemoration of Religious Freedom Day.

The day has been celebrated annually on Jan. 16 since 1993, when outgoing President George H.W. Bush issued a proclamation declaring it. A similar presidential declaration has been issued every year since then.

Before the conservative jurist's speech began, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond offered a prayer for the crowd of about 600 people attending the event.

Scalia, at 79 the court's longest-serving justice, then launched into a self-described "sermon" on one of his favorite topics: the high court's rulings on the separation of church and state.

Though most judges tend to shy away from controversial public speeches, Scalia, as usual, did not hold his tongue.

For instance, he gave the audience a text to reflect upon. He said those old enough to remember Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 campaign for president might remember these words: "Some men see things as they are and say, 'Why?' I dream things that never were and say, 'Why not?'"

Using that as a framework, Scalia characterized many of his court colleagues as dreamers who see things as they never were -- and the U.S. Constitution as it really wasn't.

Read the full story at The New Orleans Advocate.

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