WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (news - web sites) ridiculed his court's recent ruling legalizing gay sex, telling an audience of conservative activists Thursday that the ruling ignores the Constitution in favor of a modern, liberal sensibility.
The ruling, Scalia said, "held to be a constitutional right what had been a criminal offense at the time of the founding and for nearly 200 years thereafter."
Scalia adopted a mocking tone to read from the court's June ruling that struck down state antisodomy laws in Texas and elsewhere."
I'm sure some of my smarter readers can come up with some other fine examples of things which had been a criminal offense for a very long time but have since been ruled unconstitutional....
....ah, the good old days.
When black servants were reduced to slavery, the colonial governing classes redoubled their efforts to stamp out racial mixing. Miscegenation in this era was not only a serious breach of Puritan morality, but also a serious threat to slavery and the stability of the servile labor force.
The earliest record available against the cohabitation of black-white servants was the case of Hugh Davis, a white servant in Virginia who was sentenced to a public beating on Sept. 17, 1630, before an assembly of blacks and others for defiling himself with a Negro. It was required that he confesses as much the following Sabbath (Burger 10).
The first law to deter racial intermarriage was enacted in the early colonial period. The General Assembly of the Colony of Maryland in 1661 deplored the fact that there were many cases of intermarriage between white female servants and black slaves. It legislated that if any free born white woman intermarried with a black slave; she would have to serve her husbands master as long as the slave lived (Burger 10-11).
In 1681, a new Maryland law decreed that any freeborn white woman who married a black slave with the permission of the slave''s master could retain her freedom. However, the master or mistress of the intermarried slave and the clergyman performing the ceremony were to be penalized by a fine. This law was an attempt to deter racial intermarriage by shifting the penalty to those allegedly responsible for the action of slaves (Burger 11).
Some other colonies also legislated against black-white marriages. North Carolina in 1715 set up a heavy fine and a period of servitude for any white woman who married a Negro. It also provided a 50-pound fine to the clergyman who officiated. Massachusetts in 1705, and Pennsylvania in 1725 also passed similar legislation (Burger 11).
In the legislatures of several of the states which had no prohibitive laws to prevent black-white marriages, bills to prevent such, were introduced several times in states such as WI, MASS, CONN, WA, KS, MN, IA, IL, MI, OH, PA, NY. Congress also considered bills to prevent this in D.C. The states which had laws against black white marriages followed a similar pattern, mostly southern and western states, while northern ones had no laws. After the U.S. became a nation, eventually 33 states prohibited one or more forms of interracial marriage (Burger 13).
After the adoption of the 14th amendment to the constitution, July 28, 1868, the question immediately arose whether or not state laws prohibiting intermarriage denied colored people the equality guaranteed to them by the amendment. Most cases were decided in State courts and the laws were upheld (Burger 13).
In 1883, the United States Supreme Court upheld a state statute upholding a larger penalty for adultery or fornication when committed by members of different races (Pace vs. Alabama). A similar Florida statute was overturned in 1962, but even as late as 1964 (just 35 years ago folks), 19 states still had these laws existing (with Indiana and Wyoming being the two non-Southern states with laws against miscegenation) (David 1).
I look forward to Scalia reading from Loving v. Virginia in a mocking tone in front of Clarence and Virginia Thomas.