June 23, 2011

Scalia ignorant of Indian law

A Conversation with a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

By Steven T. NewcombAt a reception, I had an opportunity to talk with Justice Scalia. After saying hello and telling him my name, I asked: “I wonder if you might have ever read my law review article ‘The Evidence of Christian Nationalism in Federal Indian Law.’”

“No, what’s it about?” he responded.

I told him my article is about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. M’Intosh from 1823, a decision in which the Court said that the first “Christian people” to “discover” lands inhabited by “natives, who were heathens” have the right to assume the “ultimate dominion” over and title to the lands of the so-called “heathens.”

Given that Johnson v. M’Intosh was decided on the basis of the doctrine of discovery rather than the U.S. Constitution, I asked him how his guiding legal philosophy of “Constitutional Originalism” would relate to the Johnson decision. I asked him if the Court might ever consider overturning the decision.

Scalia said it was impossible to imagine an issuing ever coming up that would require the Court to address such a ruling; he also claimed in the same breath, however, that he had never heard of Johnson v. McIntosh. “I’ve never heard of it. I’ve never read it,” he said. He also said he’d never heard of the doctrine of discovery.
Comment:  Wow, this is revealing. Scalia seems to be totally ignorant of the foundations of Indian law. I gather he's cribbing his "reasoning" from elsewhere or making it up out of thin air.

Now that he's admitted he's ignorant of Indian law, will he recuse himself from any case involving Indians? Don't count on it.

For more on Scalia's stupidity, see Scalia Demands Written Records and Antonin Scalia:  Supreme Court Doofus.


dmarks said...

That is pretty damning. Rather than recuse himself, he should get educated on it.

Anonymous said...

A judge doesn't know the law, and 6 years of Bush and a Republican Congress produced an incompetent government. Man, the Republicans are great at self-demonstration. (Not, of course, that the Democrats are any more competent, just that they don't claim all government is incompetent.)