Scalia’s death will have profound legal, political consequences

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks to an audience last year at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, has been found dead of natural causes at a resort ranch in Texas.

Scalia, blessed with a sharp intellect and a still sharper pen, had been a powerfully conservative fixture on the court since his 1986 appointment by Ronald Reagan, but in recent years he had become increasingly eccentric and openly partisan in his opinions. His vote was still important, but he seemed to exert less and less influence over his fellow justices.

Nonetheless, the political and legal ramifications of his death will be profound.

Under the Constitution, President Obama will nominate a replacement for Scalia, which the Senate will then have to confirm. And since replacing the hard-right conservative Scalia with an Obama nominee would shift the court from a 5-4 conservative majority to a 5-4 liberal majority, I have a hard time imagining that the Republican-led Senate would take action between now and next January.

In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already made clear that the Senate will refuse to perform its constitutional duty for the next 11 months.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” McConnell said in a statement. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” The truth is that the American people expressed that voice in the 2012 election by returning Obama to the White House until January 2017. But McConnell once again continues to refuse to honor the voters’ choice.

As a result, until May or June 2017 at the earliest, we’re likely to have an eight-member Supreme Court, split down the ideological middle and adding to the sense that our governing institutions have been rendered inoperable by political division. A high-stakes presidential election and an important battle for control of the U.S. Senate now take on even more importance.

 

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885 comments
rimsky
rimsky

A two man company from Alabama is the first company who got the green signal from the Treasury to build a tractor assembly plant in Cuba.  A good beginning for our companies.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

On the plus side for the Rs, perhaps they will indeed stall the nomination, and R will be elected President, and the Senate will confirm his choice for SCJ. 

On the other hand, every time there is a 4-4 split on a decision, Ds will loudly remind the public that the R Congress is completely ineffectual at doing their job, and wouldn't they rather have Congressfolk who will work for the American people? 

McConnell was planning, in the months leading up to the election, to show that Congress could do the work of the American people, and maybe even compromise a time or two to make that happen.  That plan is now DOA, and the Ds can link any potential compromise to allowing a vote for a SCJ nominee.  The Rs will continue to be painted as a do-nothing party, which should hurt their chances in the Presidential election.

rimsky
rimsky

To our fellow conservatives you think it is OK for the Republican senate to slow down Obama on his choice of a new justice.

How would you feel if your house get broke into and you call the cops and cops tell you it is the job of the new Police chief.

I bet you will not like it.

SFM_Scootter
SFM_Scootter

@rimsky All though I really don't understand this stuff very well that seems to be a false equivalency. IMO

rimsky
rimsky

@SFM_Scootter @rimsky I look at this way.  The Congress, President and the SC work for us.  They follow the same rules (supposedly) as every body else.  Yet they set their own rules.  How would you feel if your employees set the rules and not the boss.

Paul42
Paul42

Didn't read all the comments, but it did not take long to see all those who've been whining for years that "Obama doesn't do his duty and uphold the Constitution" or "it's all Obama's fault because he won't even talk to Congress" say it's the Senate's responsibility to NOT fulfill their Constitutional duty.

Senate goes Democratic, Hillary wins, they'll really wish they'd approved a moderate to fill Scalia's vacancy.

juvenal
juvenal

@Paul42 plus don't look like the court gets as much done....

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

The senate will do its duty, just not as quickly as you might like.

Relax.

Paul42
Paul42

@BuckeyeGa

That should be played and replayed on the airwaves and in the debates.  But... we all know how quickly conservatives revert to the 12-year-old's argument to his parents of "but.... this is different!"

Paul42
Paul42

@Philo_Farnsworth

As VC noted below, if Democrats take the Senate and a Republican wins the presidencey, you'd be in favor of the Senate blocking an appointment for 8 years?

rimsky
rimsky

@Paul42 MM is taking that chance.  All or nothing.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@rimsky @Paul42 Speaking of MM...


Records from the States News Service from May 19, 2005 indicate that McConnell once argued, “Any President’s judicial nominees should receive careful consideration. But after that debate, they deserve a simple up-or-down vote. . . . It’s time to move away from advise and obstruct and get back to advise and consent. The stakes are high . . . . The Constitution of the United States is at stake. Article II, Section 2 clearly provides that the President, and the President alone, nominates judges. The Senate is empowered to give advice and consent.”


http://www.mediaite.com/online/remembering-the-time-mitch-mcconnell-said-the-president-alone-nominates-judges/

Paul42
Paul42

@Philo_Farnsworth

Reread what I posted.  IF Democrats take the Senate and IF a Republican takes the presidency *and gets reelected) that's Republican president nominating Scalia's replacement.

How long should Democrats block approval?

SFM_Scootter
SFM_Scootter

@Paul42 @SFM_Scootter I have no earthly idea Paul. (seriously) I was laughing about your usual attributing of things the cons are saying or whining about.

rimsky
rimsky

@Philo_Farnsworth That is what they have been doing for the last 18 months.  How would you feel if the workers in a business slow down their work?

Paul42
Paul42

@SFM_Scootter

Republicans are saying it's the Senate's duty to not even hold hearings for a nominee of a president they think is too liberal.

The fair question, to test their consistency, is how long should a Democratic Senate refuse to hold hearings for a nominee of a president they think is too conservative?  Until another Democratic president is elected?

Paul42
Paul42

@SFM_Scootter

Is it okay to attribute to cons things they've actually said?  Then to take the same principle and ask if it's okay if liberals do the same?


Paul42
Paul42

@rimsky

Don't let him sucker you like with the post below.  He has plenty of 'innocent' retorts in his repertoire!

rimsky
rimsky

Did any one notice FBers have disappeared?  May reappear after Jay posts something new.

juvenal
juvenal

seem pretty sure they are hanging on to the senate..... 

juvenal
juvenal

@rimsky @juvenal contested seats tend to go with party that wins the presidency, kind of wondering what that # is, be funny if the pubs drag their feet that long & then have no say if they lose the majority + have a dem prez......

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@juvenal 

So long as they don't do something stupid. 

Is blocking a SC nomination for a year "stupid"?

breckenridge
breckenridge

Raindroid...oth the Chernow and Ellis biographies of Hamilton mentioned below are well written and factually accurate.


The biography from the professor at the University of Cincinnati I thought was on Hamilton is actually, I believe, a biography of the Puritan preacher Roger Williams. He was kicked out of New England for befriending the Indians, and subsequently founded Providence Rhode Island.  And then, when the Puritans started eying up Rhode Island for expansion, Williams sailed to England and was a granted a charter from the King guaranteeing religious freedom in the colony.  And this transpired over a century before America became a nation, and long before John Locke took pen in hand.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

These repubs would turn down Jesus Christ if he was President Obama's nomination!


The President says he will not rush into a nomination. Showing respect to the dead Scalia and his family should take precedence. Class. Something most of the current crop of candidates have none of.

RandroidWillBoy
RandroidWillBoy

@RoadScholar


Why should they? I suppose if the shoe were on DEMs foot they'd rush to approve any GOP nomination. 


Both sides practice the same tired strategies..why differentiate?

breckenridge
breckenridge

@RaindroidWillBoy @RoadScholar 

Scalia? Let me tell you about Scalia. The guy couldn't find a tanning salon if it was right in front of his nose.  Not good.  You  gotta tan.  Winners tan daily. Your face has to match the orange-ish tint of your hair. If not your a loser.

jeffcamaro
jeffcamaro

Appearing to at least play by the rules would be about as effective as say holding 50 votes to repeal Obamacare.


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Would it be unreasonable for Democratic Senators to take a stand and say that they would commit to blocking any future Republican SCOTUS appointments that bear the Federalist Society’s Seal of Approval?

I don’t. In fact, if I were a debate moderator, I'd put that up for discussion between Hils and Bernie, to get their take.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@Visual_Cortex 

France and England had the 100 Years' War.

The Supreme Court is going to have the 100 Year Vacancy.

breckenridge
breckenridge

The relationship between Hamilton and Jefferson was more complex that you seem to understand, breckenridge.  Hamilton supported Jefferson over Aaron Burr for the 3rd U.S. President and was probably instrumental in Jefferson's becoming President.  

That is only part of the story.  The reason Aaron Burr ran in the first place was the behest of Hamilton, and because Hamilton liked neither Jefferson nor John Adams.  Then when Burr and Jefferson tied on the first ballot - the Senate elected the president at that time - Hamilton knew that Burr, his personal creation, would be a disaster as president.  So he begrudgingly had the Hamilton-ites still in the Senate switch their support to Jefferson. 



breckenridge
breckenridge

@MaryElizabethSings @breckenridge 

Well then you should have said that before. Hamilton was not actually a Jefferson supporter, they were light years apart politically, but his meddling forced him to ultimately give Jefferson the nod.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@breckenridge 

I knew that already.  Hamilton supported Jefferson ultimately because he said, "I would rather support a man of principle who loves our nation like Jefferson, even though I disagree with his ideas, than support a self-serving elitist such as Aaron Burr, who only thinks of the success of Aaron Burr."

Most people are complex and all of our Presidents have had flaws.  Are you a purist, like LeninTime?


Btw, both Hamilton and Jefferson had personal slander used against them in the press of that day (Hamilton's adulterous affair with a married woman when he also was married) and Jefferson's relationship with his 37 year mistress/slave, Sally Hemings with whom he had 6 children.)


MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@breckenridge @MaryElizabethSings 

Let me tell you something about myself once and for all, breckenridge, I always think in nuances, with paradoxical thoughts held simultaneously in my mind, and I think in terms of degrees and I never leave my thinking simply in gross generalities where individual human beings, living or dead, are concerned. 

 I should not have to keep stating these truths about how my mind works on this blog.  I'm a teacher, and I was a good one. I was well-educated in NYC.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@breckenridge 

P.S. to my earlier post: Yet, neither Jefferson nor Hamilton used these personal sexual flaws, each obviously had, against the other, in public print.
Too classy for that.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@breckenridge @MaryElizabethSings 

And, what an insult to my intelligence and education, that you think you need to inform me that Jefferson and Hamilton were poles apart in political views.  Practically everyone knows that.

Get over yourself.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

And, Hamilton's SUPPORT of Jefferson at the end of the Congressional hearings/debate when Burr and Jefferson had tied previously in votes, more than likely made Jefferson our 3rd President. There were over 30 times that votes were taken in that Congress until that tie in votes between Burr and Jefferson was broken.

@breckenridge @MaryElizabethSings 

breckenridge
breckenridge

@MaryElizabethSings @breckenridge 


I was questioning neither your intelligence nor you knowledge of history.  I was simply stating the fact that Hamilton was not actually a supporter of the presidential candidate Jefferson. That's all - nothing more, nothing less.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@breckenridge @MaryElizabethSings 

I NEVER stated that Hamilton supported Jefferson across the board. YOU made that assumption of my thinking, without giving me the benefit of the doubt that I understood the dynamics between these Founding Fathers with nuanced thought.  My actual words, as you quoted, were:  "Hamilton supported Jefferson over Aaron Burr for the 3rd U.S. President and was probably instrumental in Jefferson's becoming President."

And, that is fact.