No, really, he did! (UPDATE: see clarification below.) Check this out, from today’s Boston Herald:
Minutes after receiving the Eucharist at a special Mass for lawyers and politicians at Cathedral of the Holy Cross, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had a special blessing of his own for those who question his impartiality when it comes to matters of church and state.
âYou know what I say to those people?â Scalia, 70, replied, making an obscene gesture under his chin when asked by a Herald reporter if he fends off a lot of flak for publicly celebrating his conservative Roman Catholic beliefs. âThatâs Sicilian,â the Italian jurist said, interpreting for the âSopranosâ challenged.
Although it’s not 100% clear from the article, it sounds as though Scalia did this while he was still inside the Church! Apparently Scalia and Dick Cheney share, in addition to a fondness for duck hunting, a fondness for inappropriate behavior in formal public spaces.
And apparently, the whole thing is on film:
The conduct unbecoming a 20-year veteran of the countryâs highest court – and just feet from the Mother Churchâs altar – was captured by a photographer for the Archdiocese of Boston newspaper The Pilot, whose publisher is newly minted Cardinal Sean OâMalley. Although one of his sworn duties is to uphold the freedom of the press, a jocular Scalia told the shutterbug, âDonât publish that.â
Won’t it be interesting to see whether the Pilot decides to go public with those particular photographs.
By coincidence, I attended the annual Catholic Lawyers Guild lunch that follows the Red Mass, at which Scalia was the invited speaker. His talk was not at all law-related; instead, he exhorted those in attendance to be willing to be “fools for Christ’s sake” (quoting this passage from Corinthians). If those pictures become public, Scalia may indeed be shown to be a fool, though whether this qualifies as being the kind of “fool for Christ’s sake” that the Apostle Paul had in mind strikes me as questionable at best.
CLARIFICATION: As several news outlets and one of our commenters have noted, the gesture that Scalia made is not accurately described as “obscene” – the Herald appears to have gotten that wrong. And I may have added to the confusion by using the term “flips off” in the title of this post. If anyone came away from reading this post with the impression that Scalia gave someone the finger, I apologize – he did not. This story has a more accurate description of what Scalia actually did.