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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies

15-Feb-2016

Called "the most influential justice of the last quarter-century" by Judge Richard A. Posner, United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was an outspoken conservative justice known for his scathing dissents and sharp opinions. 

Over the weekend, Justice Scalia went to a luxury Texas hunting resort. After spending Friday quail hunting, the Justice went to bed around 10:00 p.m. When he did not show up for breakfast the next morning, a staff member went to check on the justice and found him dead. 

By all accounts, the larger-than-life justice died in his sleep.

Within hours of the news of his death, a political fight broke out. Some say President Barack Obama should quickly nominate a successor to Justice Scalia before his term ends. Others say that the president should wait--given that this is an election year, the people should have a say in choosing Scalia's replacement by voting for a presidential candidate whose nomination would be in line with their own political beliefs.

The death of this man, whom President Obama called a "towering legal figure," could have a significant impact on the coming election, and the fight over whether or not the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice should have any place in a presidential election.

President Obama says that he will, in fact, nominate a successor, and that Congress has sufficient time to carefully consider and vote on the nomination: 

"There will be plenty of time for me to [nominate a successor] and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote," Obama said. "These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They're bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy. They're about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life."

Some conservatives argue that a rush to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice is merely an attempt to sway the Court to a liberal bent.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists the President should not nominate a Justice in his term, saying, "The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

Others disagree, saying that Obama's nomination would not be rushed, but rather timely and appropriate. U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid counters McConnell's claim, asserting, "With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible. It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential Constitutional responsibilities."

Still others say that launching this political argument so soon after the Justice's death is distasteful. Certainly, there should be an appropriate period of mourning or political silence in respect for the loss before such political clamoring begins.

 



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