Antonin Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Santa Clara University Law School’s recital hall on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015 in Santa Clara, Calif. (Photo: Nathaniel Y. Downes, The Chronicle)

By Bob Egelko
October 28, 2015
Updated: October 29, 2015 – 6:46am

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, widely viewed as the leader of the court’s dominant conservative bloc, told law students at Santa Clara University on Wednesday that he’s actually a dissident on a liberal court, one whose prevailing view threatens “the destruction of our democratic system.”

After dissenting from two of the most important rulings in the 2014-15 term — one legalizing same-sex marriage, the other upholding federal insurance subsidies under the national health care law — Scalia said Wednesday the court has long had a majority of justices who disregard the Constitution’s text and original meaning if it conflicts with their views.

“The whole time I have been on my court, it has been a liberal court,” said the 79-year-old justice, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and part of a majority of Republican appointees throughout his tenure.

Scalia said the court’s promotion of what he derisively called the “living Constitution” began in the 1920s, when justices interpreted the guarantee of due process of law to protect fundamental rights not mentioned in the constitutional text.

The rulings started with relatively non-controversial rights, like the right to educate one’s children, but soon headed down a “slippery slope,” Scalia said. “At the bottom of that slope, I can’t imagine how you can go any further, is the right to same-sex marriage.”

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