Are you watching Scream Queens? Me neither. But I did catch a scene of the FOX slasher-comedy and was surprised to see that my father, Justice Antonin Scalia, made a cameo appearance. Sort of.
The show, set on a college campus, is about a murder spree waged by mysterious figures dressed as devils, and features Jamie Lee Curtis evading death as she did in 1978’s Halloween. The scene in question begins with Curtis re-enacting the famous shower scene from Psycho in which her mother, Janet Leigh, plays a character murdered by—I’d better not give anything away.
But Curtis avoids her mother’s fate, emerges safely from the shower, and is fending off the devils when a surprise third assailant arrives, wearing a different disguise. Curtis asks, “Are you supposed to be Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia?” (Give her credit for pronouncing his name correctly.)
The masked man nods his head before attacking her. But, a skilled martial artist, she thwarts him and his devilish companions. She takes particular delight in knocking the Scalia-guised assailant to the ground, punching him like Ronda Rousey Holly Holm and talking to him like Linda Greenhouse. Between every punch to the face, she makes a claim that, presumably, is meant to rebut something Justice Scalia has said.
“The homosexual lifestyle is not destructive to the fabric of American society!”
“The Voting Rights Act should be authorized in every state!”
“And the Affordable Care Act does not require people to eat broccoli!”
Why, it’s almost as if she’s speaking to the real judge.
I imagine that at both of the Scream Queen viewing parties around the country, people wondered who this guy was supposed to be. But the ideal Scream Queen viewer, the enlightened type the show’s writers congratulate themselves for attracting, stood up and cheered Curtis on. She’s not only a tough grrrrrrl, but she’s also striking blows for truth, justice, and progressivism! (Though they were probably disappointed that Curtis didn’t mention Citizens United. Oh well, gotta leave ’em wanting more.)
Yet the character’s righteous indignation comes off as particularly strange given that she hasn’t exactly been a beacon of morality. She has affairs with students; she decapitated her husband; and she framed her husband’s mistress for the murder. But hey, at least she’s not an originalist.
Another problem is that she’s making rejoinders to claims that Justice Scalia never made. “The homosexual lifestyle is not destructive to the fabric of American society!” is probably a reference to his dissent in this summer’s Obergefell decision, which begins: “I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.” His point was that the Court threatened democracy by usurping the role of the legislature. But that’s not as good a reason to punch him.
As for “The Voting Rights Act should be authorized in every state,” I have good news: it is! Presumably, she’s taking issue with the Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), which invalidated an element of the Voting Rights Act that required nine entire states and certain counties in seven others to get federal approval before changing election laws. The ruling did not throw out the VRA in any state, and jurisdictions that violate voting rights are still subject to judicial oversight.