Weekly Musing 2-14-16
Days until the 2016 election: 268…and Happy Valentine’s Day to all!
There is a unique balance on the Supreme Court today, which is neither decidedly conservative or liberal.
I agree with Senator Ted Cruz when he said: “Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement.”
There is just too much at stake to allow a lame duck, liberal activists President to make a politically motivated appointment on his way out the door. Allow the country time to ponder and debate this issue. It will have a lasting effect on our country and society.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dies at 79
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the intellectual cornerstone of the court’s modern conservative wing, whose elegant and acidic opinions inspired a movement of legal thinkers and ignited liberal critics, died Feb. 13 on a ranch near San Antonio. He was 79.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
In a statement Saturday, Chief Justice John G. Roberts said: “On behalf of the Court and retired Justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away. He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Maureen and his family.”
McConnell: Don’t replace Scalia until after election
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia should not be replaced until after the presidential election.
Since McConnell sets the Senate’s schedule, his remarks signal the GOP’s intent to not confirm any nominee offered by President Obama.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”
A good discussion…
The Supreme Court as a 2016 Presidential campaign issue. A few months ago, before the death of Justice Scalia, I wrote the following at Talking Points Memo:
The future composition of the Supreme Court is the most important civil rights cause of our time. It is more important than racial justice, marriage equality, voting rights, money in politics, abortion rights, gun rights, or managing climate change. It matters more because the ability to move forward in these other civil rights struggles depends first and foremost upon control of the Court. And control for the next generation is about to be up for grabs, likely in the next presidential election, a point many on the right but few on the left seem to have recognized.
When the next President of the United States assumes office on January 20, 2017, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be nearly 84, Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy will be over 80, and Justice Stephen Breyer will be 78. Although many Justices have served on the Court into their 80s and beyond, the chances for all of these Justices remaining through the next 4 or 8 years of the 45th President are slim. Indeed, the next president will likely make multiple appointments to the Court.
The stakes are high. On non-controversial cases, or cases where the ideological stakes are low, the Justices often agree and are sometimes unanimous. In such cases, the Justices act much like lower court judges do, applying precedents, text, history, and a range of interpretative tools to decide cases. In the most controversial cases, however—those involving issues such as gun rights, affirmative action, abortion, money in politics, privacy, and federal power—the value judgments and ideology of the Supreme Court Justices, and increasingly the party affiliation of the president appointing them, are good predictors of each Justice’s vote.
A conservative like Justice Scalia tends to vote to uphold abortion restrictions, strike down gun restrictions, and view the First Amendment as protecting the right to spend unlimited sums in elections. A liberal like Justice Ginsburg tends to vote the opposite way: to strike down abortion restrictions, uphold gun laws, and view the government’s interest in stopping undue influence of money in elections as justifying some limits on money in politics. This to not to say it is just politics in these cases, or that these Justices are making crassly partisan decisions. They’re not. It is that increasingly a Justice’s ideology and jurisprudence line up with one political party’s positions or another because Justices are chosen for that very reason.
Especially if Senate Republicans block a liberal appointee to the Supreme Court, this has the potential to inject this issue into the Presidential campaign. And it will work both ways. You can bet that Ted Cruz will be running on a platform to replace Scalia with more and more Scalias. This could finally be the election that brings the Supreme Court into national focus much more (it has not been mentioned so far in any of the presidential debates I’ve seen).
Republican Debate Brims With Attacks on Immigration and Foreign Policy
And Senator Ted Cruz of Texas warned of what could happen if Mr. Obama were allowed to fill the vacancy.
“We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that would undermine the religious liberty of millions of Americans,” Mr. Cruz said.