In a graduation speech at his granddaughter's high school last Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia revealed that he believes humanity has been around "some 5,000 years or so." Speaking to the crowd of teenagers and parents, he said:
Class of 2015, you should not leave Stone Ridge High School thinking that you face challenges that are at all, in any important sense, unprecedented. Humanity has been around for at least some 5,000 years or so, and I doubt that the basic challenges as confronted are any worse now, or alas even much different, from what they ever were.
Given we know that humanity is at least 195,000 years old (and possibly almost twice that), Scalia's estimation is off by a minimum of 190,000 years and in direct contradiction to every reputable scientist on the planet. Scalia, who is deeply conservative and known to be extremely religious, is one of the most powerful and respected men in America. Knowing that he takes the text of a book based on 5th hand accounts of fairy tales told by goat herders in the Bronze Age more seriously than scientists is frankly shocking. Not only is it shocking, but completely unacceptable given Scalia's position in society.
To reiterate - a Supreme Court Justice believes the human species is only 5,000 years old.
This revelation should cause Scalia to voluntarily step down given it can no longer be argued that he is fit for office. Despite the right's attempts to argue that creationism is a valid belief and should be treated as an equal to science, it isn't.
While Scalia doesn't create policy directly, he listens to thousands of cases involving laws of Congress and the Constitution and makes final judgements on them. And that is the crucial word here: judgement. If Scalia's mind has led him to the belief in unprovable religious scripture over science, how can he be trusted to make rational decisions about serious issues that could affect the country in profound ways? Scalia's personal religious beliefs have always affected his rulings - from his relentless opposition to the "homosexual agenda" to trying to get Roe vs Wade overturned. While those issues are obviously important, there more pressing problems at hand that could seriously impact to future of human life on the planet. Does America really want someone like Antonin Scalia making decisions about climate change policy? Scalia's record on the environment is already patchy at best, but know we know where he gets his science from, it is imperative he no longer exercises any authority over it given the precariousness of our ecological existence.
Scalia is 79 years old, and has apparently been on the cusp of retirement for some time now. After this deeply disconcerting revelation, public pressure should help the Reagan appointed Justice make up his mind once and for all.