] "There is something wrong with the principle of
] neutrality," said Scalia, considered among the court's
] staunchest conservatives. Neutrality as envisioned by the
] founding fathers, Scalia said, "is not neutrality between
] religiousness and nonreligiousness; it is between
] denominations of religion."
Our founding fathers and other great national leaders were brilliant men who developed powerful ideas about how to build a successful society. However, you have to put them in a context. Abraham Lincoln, for example, would be viewed as a contemptible bigot were he alive today, but that does not mean that we should not honor him and the value of his ideas. What Scalia misses is that the society which existed in 1776 is not the same society which exists today, and in fact it was a great deal less mature.
The valuable idea here is that the government should not get involved in the task of dictating religious beliefs or doctrine. However, in the context of the late 1700's all of the white people in America practiced some form of Christianity or Judaism. Other religions were certainly practiced by people who weren't white, but this mattered little in an institutionally racist society. So, in that context, references to God were not understood to fall into the scope of dictating religious doctrine. People were simply not aware of an example of a way of thinking which did not include God.
Today we are much more mature. There are a far wider array of religions acknowledged and practiced in our society, including a growing minority of the population that does not practice any religion at all. In that context the fundamental philosophy of the founders must be applied differently then it would have been applied 200+ years ago. That means building a society which respects religious beliefs but doesn't require them.
Of course, the cynical thought here is that Scalia is far too intelligent to have missed this distinction, or to be unaware of the context in which he lives. Its clear in the quotes taken in this article that he promotes a religious government, and opposes secularism. In doing so, he in fact advocates the establishment of religion, and stands opposed to the fundamental constitutional law that he is tasked with defending.
There is another argument in there, which Scalia does not make, but which must be asked...
Insofaras we can see that philosophically the values inherent in our system of government require protecting rights that the populace, on the whole, doesn't respect, how should we respond? One might argue that the democratic government ought to drive these changes, as if the court out steps the democracy too far its legitimacy is threatened. On the other hand, we don't need to defend popular rights. The whole purpose of limited government is to protect unpopular minorities from the tyranny of the majority. The Constitution, and the court, mean nothing, if we are simply operating on majority rule. How do you strike that balance?
To be honest, the impeachment mechanism provides a safety value through which a court that went too far could be reigned in by the democracy without violence and without threatening the basic institution.
So my answer is, Insofaras we can see that philosophically the values inherent in our system of government require protecting rights that the populace, on the whole, doesn't respect, we should respond by protecting those rights unless we would be impeached for doing so.
Scalia opposed to separation of church and state