Meet The Princeton Student Who Challenged Justice Scalia On Sodomy Laws

Princeton student Duncan Hosie helped make headlines when he challenged Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on his comparison of bans on sodomy to those on bestiality, murder and incest.

Hosie appeared on MSNBC’s The Last Word to describe his motivation:

“I think there’s a fundamental difference between arguing that the Constitution doesn’t protect gay rights and [saying that] the Constitution justifies that we need to use this language when talking about gay rights,” he told host Alex Wagner. “That was the point of my question: I wanted to confront Justice Scalia [about his rhetoric].”

Like us, Hosie didn’t buy Scalia’s explanation that society should be allowed to have “moral feelings against homosexuality,” that translate into laws. “I still don’t feel persuaded,” said the openly gay freshman. “It’s fine for a Supreme Court Justice to oppose gay rights, but I don’t think it’s okay for a Supreme Court Justice to compare gay sex to bestiality or murder.”

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  • Spike

    Its too bad the kid didn’t follow up with following . . . You sound more like a Fox News anchor then a Supreme Court judge.

  • 2eo

    @Spike: He went the right way, here we can take as many deserved shots at those c*nts as we collectively want, but he’s taken the public route.

    Doing that would, in spite of being completely correct it would give them ammunition against him as it gives him a bias.

    They would compare the bias on the right leaning channels and not discuss anything because they can NOT deal with facts, ever.

  • Spike

    @2eo: I beg to differ, taking the high road with conservative elitist ass.holes is loose/loose. Scalia doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks hence his follow up statement . . . “I’m surprised you weren’t persuaded,” as which point the perfect come back would have been, ‘And I’m surprised you aren’t an anchor on Fox News.’ What has happened to the biting gay wit that separates us from the boring str8ts?

    BTW, the right leaning channels spin everything exactly how they choose, regardless of facs. Had you not noticed.

  • alterego1980

    He did a great job. His question was right on point and he let Scalia embarrass himself with his answer, whether Scalia realized it or not. The kid is a great speaker, especially for a freshman and i hope he will keep the pressure on throughout his career in whatever he does.

  • robho3

    Scalia — another dinosaur who will soon die off

  • GayBacon

    Awwwww Duncan is cute in a nerdy sort of way. Wish him luck.

  • davegun2

    I would love to have sodomy with Duncan.

    Dirty Old Man

  • DirtyOleMan

    @davegun2: Actually, so would I…and its my handle!

  • Charli Girl

    How far is the actual fall from the sanctimonious soap box paw paw.????
    Maine,Md and Wa and Mn..How you loving them apples paw paw????

  • Elloreigh

    Before you respond to what what I’m about to say below, take the time to read all of it, not just the first sentence.

    As a philosophical question about the relationship between morality and law, Scalia is correct that we can make moral judgments and that those positions can become laws. Which is not the same thing as advocating that any position purported to be based on someone’s ideas about morality should become law. We get from point A (a position on morality) to point B (lawmaking surrounding those positions on morality) through the messy processes of citizens’ interaction with each other, the media, and their democratically elected representatives in Congress, the last of whom then have the charge of figuring out not only what is popular, but what is consistent with constitutional principles. We also attempt to balance the tendency of the majority to become an unruly mob by recognizing and protecting the rights of the individual. And we sometimes, perhaps all too often, fail in that endeavor.

    Most people would agree that murder is bad, but we don’t necessarily all get there from the same direction. Is it bad because it causes someone harm? Is it bad because it violates their rights? Is it bad because the Bible or some other text perceived as holy says so? And if murder is bad, why is killing in self-defense different? (I’m not asking anyone to answer those questions. I’m merely asking them to promote thoughtful consideration on the matter.)

    Yes, I think it’s rude to compare homosexuality to murder. I also don’t think that the fact we can make moral judgments about something like homosexuality means our judgments will be correct, or that legislating around those judgments will automatically promote some greater good.

    This is a problem I have with Scalia’s approach to interpreting the law. Does the law serve us, or the other way around? The application of legal philosophies, such as that of the law growing out of our collective moral judgments, shouldn’t operate in a vacuum, without consideration for lives of real people affected by authoritative interpretation of the law. We should no more let ourselves be boxed in by rigid, philosophical absolutes than we should allow emotional, knee-jerk reactions to overrule our reason. Reason must be balanced by compassion. A Constitution that is “dead, dead, dead” is of no use to the living, nor frankly are the judgments of those who interpret it as such.

    It isn’t that principles and philosophical questions of law don’t matter. They in fact matter a great deal. But they are not all there is. They provide us with a framework for making judgments, but they not a formula for calculating justice. Justice is the product of critically thinking people applying the law in a way that is fair and balanced. It does not grow and flourish from words on paper written by men long dead, but by by living men and women who breathe life into the law, nurturing justice by careful consideration not only of their philosophy, but of its impact on the lives of others.

  • FlopsyMopsyCT

    I don’t think what this guy asked was really expressing the point he was actually trying to make. The rhetoric Scalia used is no doubt tiresome and perhaps outdated, but outlandish rhetoric here isn’t the issue. The problem with Scalia’s argument is that he’s assuming crimes like beastiality and incest are prohibited strictly for “moral” reasons. Personally, I would argue that there are reasons beyond simple moral issues with banging animals and close family members that compel society to make them illegal, and those reasons may not necessarily be compelling for purposes of making sodomy unlawful.

    Scalia basically said we couldn’t prohibit murder for moral reasons if we cant prohibit sodomy. I would vehemently disagree. Yeah, most of us find murder to be an immoral act. But is that really why we prohibit it? Simply because it’s icky? That may be part of it, but a stronger argument would be that those behaviors create a tangible unrest in the relevant society in which they occur. In the case of murder, someone dies, which is obviously the worst of the crime, but it further extends to anguish in those close to the victim, fear of one’s and loved ones’ safety, financial burdens on spouses and the governments that must investigate and prosecute the crime, etc..

    I may be off, but I don’t think sodomy has the ripple effect that murder does, and i do think those effects are why we prohibit murder, not just because we have a moral issue with it. For sure, there may be other reasons to prohibit sodomy, but simply saying that it should be prohibited due to moral objection because then we couldn’t prohibit murder is silly. There are plenty of reasons to reject such behavior outside of moral problems with it.

    Agree? Disagree? Anyone view it differently? I must say, I applaud this kid, I actually had a classmate personally challenge Scalia a few years back and he got clobbered by the Justice. This kid fared much better.

  • Charli Girl

    That’s the problem with this washed up old male…He is challenged only by passive personalities.He needs to argue these issues with someone that is on to him and his behaviors.
    Trust when I tell you,he wouldn’t stand a chance against this woman.
    There is something VERY strange and reckless about him..He likes to talk in parables and circles as if he considers himself a profit of some sort.If he is challenged in conversation,he takes it personally,which is SO dangerous in what is supposed to be his JOB!

    It’s not rocket science that paw paw should BE retired! And maybe a greeter at Walmart would suit him better.

  • FlopsyMopsyCT

    @Charli Girl: You actually bring up an interesting point that I hadn’t realied until you mentioned it. Part of the success supporting Scalia’s views, I think, has to do with the fact that his rhetoric is largely unchallenged contemporaneously. I have never heard of him going up against a good gays rights advocate (e.g. Dale Carpenter) for a debate. A few years back, Scalia came to my school and one of my classmates challenged his views opinions and dissents regarding homosexuality. It was a great attempt, but sadly, it was a SCOTUS Justice against a 2L law student; the disparity between abilities to argue the merits was terribly biased towards Scalia and too great to have any substantive effect on his arguments. Part of why Scalia’s opinions have so much merit is because they often stand alone, like in a book, or a SCOTUS opinion, or through him giving a speech to a student body (littered with few, relevant questions and comments). I do think that if he were made to go up against someone with a decent line of attack, they wouldn’t have as great an impact as they normally do.

    To be clear, I actually have a lot of admiration for Scalia as a jurist. I do disagree with him vehemently on homosexual rights, but he has an incredible ability for legal thinking. Truthfully, although I do know Scalia is a social conservative, I don’t think he is necessarily pre-wired against fair treatment of homosexual people in society. I think his interest is in how we get there, and what vehicles society can/should use to achieve homosexual rights. At the very least, he does provide a great avenue for discussion.

    I would love to see you debate him Charlie Girl, I don’t think I would have the stamina for that. But I bet you could do it!

  • Elloreigh

    With regard to your statements about why we ban murder, you may not recognize it, but those are in fact arguments with a basis in morality. Or rather, they’re a judgment against the immorality of murder, based on an observation of the harm it causes not only to the victim, but to others. You’ve likewise identified that the harm extends to economic concerns as well as it having a disruptive effect on society. All moral argumentts.

    Morality isn’t only a judgment about things some find “icky”. In fact, I would say it’s very questions whether something as subjective as “ickiness” really rates use as yardstick in judging what is or isn’t moral.

    Scalia’s point is that laws are based in moral judgments. We can certainly disagree with him as to whether or not judgments about the morality of homosexuality are something that have a place in law. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t, in no small part because they are based on something like “ickiness”. Interpretation of the law requires a much higher standard than schoolyard bullying of difference, based on the perception that something is “icky”.

  • FlopsyMopsyCT

    @Elloreigh: I would actually ardently disagree. I don’t believe ALL laws have some basis in morality, at least in the way we are defining morality. I used the “ickiness” factor, which I acknowledge is a shaky standard, I didn’t expect anyone to quote me on it, haha. Of course most laws have some basis in preventing some kind of wrong, but sometimes they are there for the sake of making things easier (like general procedural laws). But often that wrong isn’t a breach of some moral tenet. Take insider trading laws for example. What is the moral breach they’re trying to prevent? If anything, the acts they’re preventing would be considered moral acts, in so far as I recognize the morality in offering warnings and reducing personal economic harm. Another example I might make is drug use laws. I personally don’t see drug use as a moral wrong, I certainly categorize it as a stupid decision, but what moral wrong is committed by drug use would be novel to me. Mind altering substances have been used for centuries, without government prohibition, in religious ceremonies, government gatherings. Really, the “moral” issue with drug use is a rather recent phenomenon. Contract and real estate laws: most of them are made with the expectation that they will speed up transactions and court processes. If anything, a lot of real estate laws go against general society’s morals. Caveat emptor is one major biggie. Another example would be laws preventing those under 18 from contracting; I don’t think most people would believe a 17-year-old contracting is a moral wrong. Of course we do that because we presume children can’t understand the importance of contractual obligations, and to safeguard them sneaky, underhanded people trying to fraud them through a contractual process, but the actual act isn’t a moral wrong? Do you disagree?

    I also don’t understand what you mean by “You’ve likewise identified that the harm extends to economic concerns as well as it having a disruptive effect on society. All moral arguments.” You don’t explain how those effects have any basis in morality. How do the economic burdens placed on society (often very peripherally via murder) constitute a moral wrong? I pay taxes, a much more direct financial burden to myself; is that a moral wrong? I wouldn’t argue that in court, but based on your reasoning, I think it would work.

    “Scalia’s point is that laws are based in moral judgments.” Yes, that is indeed what Scalia said, I refute that because I disagree. I think many, many laws come about from completely amoral bases, as noted above.

    “We can certainly disagree with him as to whether or not judgments about the morality of homosexuality are something that have a place in law.” Really? I don’t agree. Your conceding to Scalia’s argument, which is perhaps what you’re trying to do. Scalia’s point is there was a moral prohibition against sodomy. If we get rid of the moral judgment behind that, then we have to get rid of it for murder. According to his argument, what you say is incorrect; we can’t decide whether to base laws pertaining to homosexuals on morality. We must according to him. His assumption is that the acts being prohibited by these laws are done so due to their moral basis. I very much disagree. See my first comment.

    I don’t understand your last statement.

    Thanks for your comment. I love discussing, arguing this stuff. Just FYI, I work from home and I bored out of my mind, hence why I have the time for this kind of thing lol.

  • Charli Girl

    Again…I think Stevie wonder could see right thru this disturbed old man…He SO wants to leave a legacy of some sort,unfortunately it won’t be exactly as he desires…There is something strange and seemingly deranged.

    All the law mumbo jumbo wont change the fact that heterosexual males LOVE anal sex and just because my brothers may or may NOT engage in this,is his only argument…So why is it ok for heteros and not homos?
    Answer is ..it IS…Once this old geezerd realizes that humans have the right to engage in adult consensual sex whenever and however they choose..I don’t give a rats ass about how “icky” he thinks it is,nor does anyone else.If I had to think about his ” ickiness”,I’d throw up! .But he still has the right to take his ickiness and marry the one he wants to share his Lil ickiness with! And no one compares his Lil ickiness to murder!

    That’s like that guy that looks like a female from SC..Lynsey Graham said the other day” if gays are allowed to marry why can’t 3 people marry? Well one man one woman marry and YET that question never comes up,REALLY? Do they even think before they open their mouths? And I hope he never asks Mitt Romney’s Grandfather that question!,,
    They have the gall to fight people that love each other and take taxpayers money to do so and yet all the while say that they want smaller govt.Really? How small does that govt look when it’s sitting at the foot of your very own bed?

    Twenty babies are shot and killed and they don’t want to fight for their rights and get a handle on gun control but hey lets spend over two million defending DOMA and keep two loving couples from getting married! REALLY?
    These so called conservatives are just FAKE CHRISTIANS who love to stand on soap boxes and shout about how much power they THINK they have.The problem is the younger generation is NOT having it,they are on to them and the Republican Party is a dieing breed,soon there will be nobody left in their little party.

    So again…may I suggest Walmart greeter for this Scalian? If he went up against anyone with any balls,HE’D lose big time,but thus far he is only challenged by passive people that may be a little nervous.
    I’m sure I will never be in the same circles as him,but I’d love to see someone that has half a spine to set him straight! I deal with his type every single day,….They can never handle the truth. And the truth is …there is nothing sadder than an insecure hetero male trying to govern others when he can’t govern his own home!

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