Scalia Death Could Throw US Politics Into Turmoil
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the longest-serving justice on the Supreme Court, has died at the age of 79.
“He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in a statement confirming Justice Scalia’s death. “His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served.”
Judge Cinderela Guevara said that she had to pronounce Scalia dead over the phone because both justices of the peace were out of town at the time. No autopsy is currently planned. The official cause of death will be listed as a heart attack.
The death of Scalia, the leading voice of uncompromising conservatism on the U.S. Supreme Court, was nominated in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.
Scalia’s concept of constitutional interpretation became the focus of huge debates on the court and in the legal community. He transformed the court by instilling in it his belief that judges should follow the precise words of the Constitution and not apply a modern interpretation.
He will be best known, perhaps, for his landmark decision District of Columbia v. Heller, holding that the Second Amendment protects the right to posses a firearm at home. He was a critic of Roe v. Wade and dissented in last term’s same-sex marriage cases.
He wrote a stinging dissent in the same-sex marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges, calling the decision a “threat to American democracy.”
He also believed that marriage should be decided by the people, not the courts.
Scalia’s death could mean that Obama could try to shift the balance of the court during his final year in office, and Obama states that he planned “to fulfill my constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor in due time,” but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted the next administration should make the appointment.
Justice Scalia’s death deprives conservatives of a key vote that could change the outcome in some major Supreme Court cases. This could make all the difference with regard to virtually every constitutional issue and affect all of us, often in the most intimate and important aspects of our lives.
However, there may be a small hope left for Conservatives.
A precedent was set in August 1960, where the Democrat-controlled Senate passed a resolution, S.RES. 334, “Expressing the sense of the Senate that the president should not make recess appointments to the Supreme Court, except to prevent or end a breakdown in the administration of the Court’s business.”
Each of President Eisenhower’s SCOTUS appointments had initially been a recess appointment who was later confirmed by the Senate, and the Democrats seemed concerned that he would try to fill any last-minute vacancy that might arise with a recess appointment.
But the knife cuts both ways. The Democrats may have to live with the fruits of their labors. Harry Reid would very much like to get the appointment during the Obama reign, as this will practically guarantee a gutting of The Bill of Rights. Will the Senate Republicans take heed, and finally stand up for the citizens of the United States?
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