BOULDER – Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was asked about marijuana Wednesday after giving a speech at the University of Colorado. The conservative justice smiled, then hinted that he thinks federal drug law should trump Colorado’s vote to allow pot.
Scalia spoke about federalism in his remarks. After the speech, Scalia was asked by a high school student about Colorado’s voting in 2012 to legalize marijuana in defiance of federal drug law. The student wanted to know how Scalia thought the conflict should be resolved.
Scalia smiled and said, “I’m not going to respond to that because it would force me to have to recuse myself” if the question ever went to the high court.
But he added, “the Constitution contains something called the Supremacy Clause,” which is the provision stating that federal laws trump state laws.
Scalia also was asked when the Supreme Court would announce what it will hear in its next term, which begins Monday. The court is widely expected to consider same-sex marriage, but has yet to announce when.
Scalia quipped, “I know when, but I’m not going to tell you.” When the crowd of about 1,500 laughed, Scalia added, “Soon! Soon!”
During his prepared remarks, Scalia gave a fiery takedown of the idea that the Constitution changes with time.
He joked that if the nation wanted nine judges to rewrite the U.S. Constitution, they’d never let six Catholics and three Jews do the work. That’s the religious breakdown of the current court.
Scalia criticized those who believe the Constitution can be reinterpreted to fit morals of the time.
“If there’s anything you think is really, really bad, well, it must be unconstitutional,” Scalia said.
Scalia spoke earlier in the day to about 400 people at Colorado Christian University.
In that speech, Scalia repeated his position that religious freedom is required of a nation with many religions.
“It would be wrong to think, however, that the separation of church and state must mean that the political views of men and women must not be informed by their religious beliefs,” Scalia said.
Scalia was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and has served on the nation’s highest court for nearly 30 years.