Now that the sex lives of Supreme Court justices have become grist for commentators, we are finally free to discuss a question formerly only whispered about in the shadows: Why does Justice Antonin Scalia, by common consent the leading intellectual force on the Court, have nine children? Is this normal? Or should I say "normal," as some people choose to define it? Can he represent the views of ordinary Americans when he practices such a minority lifestyle? After all, having nine children is far more unusual in this country than, say, being a lesbian.
Let me be clear: the issue is not the fact that Scalia has chosen to have nine children. That is his personal business. The question is whether he is an extremist advocate of the so-called "Nine Children Agenda." Can he deal open-mindedly with children’s issues when he has so many himself? Can he persuade his children to recuse themselves when appropriate (or, in the vernacular, "Just shut up, will you? I’m trying to write an opinion here. Sweetheart, could you please come and take him…stop climbing up my leg…watch it with that glass of water, buddy…no, that’s some condemned prisoner’s brief that daddy has to reject, so don’t …would somebody please take this kid…LOOK OUT for the… Jesus H. Christ, how am I supposed to get any work done"?).
Speculation is already rampant about why Scalia chose nine children over a more conventional lifestyle. Is he a sex maniac? That suspicion naturally arises. But perhaps once he started, he just never got around to stopping. Or maybe he just likes children. In recent days, Scalia’s friends have rushed to his defense, going out of their way to portray him as a model of sexual restraint. "Every Friday a bunch of us used to go down to this bar to pick up women," one of his college roommates recalls. "We’d always ask Nino if he wanted to join us, but he always said he was too busy studying. Frankly, we thought he was gay."
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This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.