Lost on Scalia the high judge and legal philosopher, it seems, is the whole of the natural law tradition, a tradition that holds law to be, among other things, an ordinance of reason—and not simply a matter of the will, legislative or otherwise. Right reason should lead one to conclude that the human institution we call “marriage” is only one thing, the permanent union of a man and woman. Scalia expressly rejects this conclusion. But also lost on Scalia the active and educated Catholic, it seems, is the Church’s unbroken teaching that marriage can only exist between a man and woman, and that to hold otherwise is to be in plain contradiction of infallible Church teaching (Canon 750 § 2). Indeed, if, as seems all but sure, Church teaching that ‘marriage is the permanent union of a man and a woman’ is not just a truth knowable by natural reason but is revealed by God then Scalia’s assertion that we can call “marriage” any sexual combination of people (or things?) we wish (provided only that we do so through a legislature) would be objectively heretical (Canon 750 § 1)! No matter how one reads him, then, whether as a judge charged to reason or as a Catholic charged to believe, Scalia has made an astoundingly wrong and harmful assertion in a hugely public way.

In the Light of the Law. This seems not just wrong but bizarrely wrong to me. Scalia is writing, in his dissent, as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. His task in that office is to interpret the law of the United States, not the natural law as understood by Catholicism. Does Peters really expect Scalia to say, “I don’t care what the Constitution says, I shall be guided in my decisions by infallible Church teaching”? Were Scalia to do that, he would be openly and explicitly departing from the vows he made when he assumed his office. This is just plain nuts.