With the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, it’s not an understatement to say things have changed. Because trust us, things have definitely changed!
While you were livin’ the high-life and making plans, something continued to move around you. What, life? No, American politics! This is ‘The Rundown.’ What is ‘The Rundown’ you ask? Other than a terrific action-comedy starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Stifler from ‘American Pie’, it’s our unique breakdown of major news stories that are currently hitting the political scene.
Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden passing last weekend has caused a seismic eruption throughout the political world. There are some real consequences to what happened over the weekend. Here’s our rundown.
Good Night Sweet Prince
There are polarizing individuals on the Supreme Court and then there was Antonin Scalia. Your feelings of Scalia were always followed by a bellowed “damn, Scalia” after you read every legal brief. Ruth Bader Ginsberg said it best when she once described Justice Scalia as, “I disagree with most of what he said, but I loved the way he said it.” I was a sentiment shared by many, which makes Justice Scalia frankly a very provocative figure, in an institution that tries to be anything but.
There were many opinions – dissent on gay marriage, Bush v Gore, interpreting the 2nd Amendment – that made Scalia a very divisive figure. Yet it was the way he said them. Depending on what side of the isle you were on, Antonin Scalia was either the lone hero protecting the Constitution from the ever changing times or the cantankerous SCOTUS judge that will be played by Paul Giovani in a movie about gay marriage.
Our guess, he wouldn’t of had it any other way.
Yup, Nailed It
Antonin Gregory Scalia. pic.twitter.com/3lRnSwVcqe
— tldrwikipedia (@tldrwikipedia) February 13, 2016
Some in the media have speculated that SCOTUS might stop taking major cases until they have found a suitable replacement for Justice Scalia. These people would be wrong. Because if anything has proven true about the Supreme Court, nothing stops the SCOTUS train!
This however doesn’t mean they’ll be making landmark decisions anytime soon.
While they’ll continue to take cases, with Justice Scalia gone, much of SCOTUS’ decisions will become 4-4 ties. So what does it mean for those controversial cases that are currently on SCOTUS’ docket?
They won’t be establishing national precedent with 4-4 ties, which means lower court decisions will be upheld for major cases until Justice Scalia’s replacement is put into place. That means the hotly contested cases brought to the Supreme Court like challenges to President Obama’s immigration plan or Texas’ abortion law are suddenly not as consequential as they were originally thought to be. So in other words, don’t expect any major decisions from SCOTUS for the time being.
Hence why filling that seat sooner, rather than later might be smart move for democracy as a whole. But more on that in a bit.
Yes, There Are “Scalia Death Truthers” and Yes, The Theories are as Insane as You Think…
Filling an Empty Seat (Or Maybe Not…)
Mere hours after Antonin Scalia’s death, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and various GOP presidential candidates voiced their opinions that Supreme Court judges shouldn’t be appointed in an election year, while in contrast Democrats have snapped back saying it would be irresponsible not to replace Scalia’s seat and wait till the election is over to do so.
While both the Democrats and the Republicans have been making misleading arguments regarding the replacement of a vacant SCOTUS seat, however they aren’t wrong in emphasizing the importance of the seat itself. Essentially for the next decade or so, major Supreme Court cases like Roe v. Wade and Citizens United has the possibility to finally being in play once again, which only days ago looked to be impossible to reverse. There is no doubt that Justice Scalia’s death causes a stalemate within SCOTUS. President Barack Obama knows that and more importantly Congressional Republicans know that.
For President Obama to get someone confirmed this year will be almost impossible if the GOP controlled Congress decides not to cooperate. Which to be fair, is probably a smart move for those Republicans looking for re-election this year. While the nomination of a liberal SCOTUS judge would definitely go against a Republican-controlled Congress’ interest, but like all politicians, they care about their Senate seats more. And in an election year, voting for a liberal judge for the Supreme Court can bite you in a primary election.
Honestly, it’s up in the air whether President Obama will be able to get a nomination through. From the recent rumors, Attorney General Loretta Lynch is said to be a front-runner for the position according to SCOTUSblog. The pick makes the most sense considering President Obama’s other two Supreme Court nominees were Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. But whether Congress will be privy to the notion is another matter entirely.
(Photo Credits: Wikipedia, Pixabay, Google Images)