On the subject of today's 6-3 Supreme Court ruling striking down Texas's sodomy law, Clarence Thomas found a clever way to talk out of both sides of his mouth (or someone -- Karl Rove? whoever's ghostwriting Thomas's million-dollar memoir? -- found a way for him): Thomas voted to uphold the ban on gay sodomy, but said this in his dissent:
If I were a member of the Texas Legislature, I would vote to repeal. Punishing someone for expressing his sexual preference through noncommercial consensual conduct with another adult does not appear to be a worthy way to expend valuable law enforcement resources.
On the one hand, this is mildly heartening. On the other hand -- gimme a break. Voting in favor of gay sex? Yeah, that would be a really shrewd political move for a legislator in Longhorn Country, wouldn't it?
Antonin Scalia, however -- who's usually Frick to Thomas's Frack -- made no secret of his utter loathing for gay people, in a dissent he read from the bench:
Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct....It is clear from this that the Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed. Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.
(TBOGG has a fuller excerpt from the dissent.)
I said last month that I think Bush is going to try to make Clarence Thomas the next Chief Justice. I think today's ruling is a sign that this may well happen. Here's Scalia -- the consensus favorite -- obviously not worried that he's offending right-leaning libertarians, Log Cabin Republicans, Will and Grace-watching registered-independent centrist soccer parents, and gay-friendly "Hipublicans"; by contrast, there's Thomas, seemingly expressing a gay-tolerant sentiment even as he votes to uphold a law that singles gay people out for special punishment. Even though Thomas voted to uphold a discriminatory law, and recommended an alternative way of overturning it that could never actually happen in the real world, he's inoculated himself against the criticism of young, broader-minded conservatives. And yet his suggestion that this question should be dealt with legislatively allows him to say, if pressed, that yes, he does believe homosexual conduct is immoral -- it's just not worth wasting the time of the cops. I bet the Religious Right will let him slide on that.