Justice Antonin Scalia has made it clear that he believes laws which banned gay sex were constitutional, which suggests he is not likely to back marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

Speaking at an appearance at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. to pitch his book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts, Scalia told a few hundred people that he applies the words in the U.S. Constitution as they were understood by its authors, the AP reported.

Using his “textualist” method makes ruling on some of today's hot button issues easy, he said.

“The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was a crime in every state,” said Scalia, who was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

The Supreme Court is likely to consider a gay marriage case this term. Four legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) have been appealed to the high court. DOMA denies a range of federal benefits to legally married gay couples. Proponents of Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban, have also asked the Supreme Court to review a lower court's ruling which struck down the voter-approved amendment.