Monday, February 15, 2016

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies

The big news, is, of course, the death of  conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  His passing may have an impact on the outcome of cases currently pending before the Court.  Before his death the Court had 4 conservatives, 4 liberals and a swing-vote, Kennedy.  Often, these two blocs prevailed by getting Kennedy on their side.  It still takes 5 votes to decide a case, but now the conservatives will have to get both Kennedy and a liberal to win.  The liberal bloc only needs Kennedy to win.  Decisions could move to the political left.
Pres. Obama has announced that he will try to fill the vacancy during his term.  Republicans, who have a 54-46 majority in the Senate (which confirms Presidential nominations), want the next President to fill the vacancy.  Given the polarization in Congress, it is likely the Republicans will vote as a bloc and defeat Obama's nominee. 
Perhaps none of Scalia's opinions was as controversial as the one where the majority concluded that the Second Amendment gives a right to keep and bear arms even to those who are not members of a formal militia (D.C. v. Heller).  That was a 5-4 decision and the Left is already sharpening their knives in the hope of being able to wipe that right off the constitutional map.  If the Court takes away the individual right, the public reaction by many will be angry and violent.  If you think this government has polarization and legitimacy problems  now, you haven't seen anything yet. In our history, the Supreme Court has never taken away an individual right in the Bill of Rights.  Such an act could result in massive demonstrations, widespread civil disobedience and violent protest.  The results could be extremely ominous. 
Although President's talk about find the best qualified judges for the Supreme Court, they are more concerned with finding ideological allies.  This vacancy on the Court makes the upcoming election even more important.

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