Saturday, February 13, 2016

Justice Antonin Scalia Died at 79

On February 13th, 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia died at 79 near Marfa, Texas. Appointed by Ronald Reagan, he is the longest serving member on the Court before he died. Justice Scalia is known to be the man "of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law," said Texas Governor Greg Abbott. He is a strong conservative who has previously been an opponent of abortion, affirmative action, and same-sex marriage.

With the election cycle at full speed, Marc Rubio announced that the "next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia's unwavering belief in the founding principles." Republican senators are reportedly grouping together to block any of Obama's nomination that leans more left that Scalia. This nomination is especially heated because the conservative majority Supreme Court could switch to a liberal majority.

On average, the nominating process of a Supreme Court Justice takes 2-1/2 months, but given the circumstances, the process may take much longer. If the process extends past President Obama's term, the next President will have the nominating power.

Do you think Obama will be able to nominate a liberal justice?
Will Obama purposefully nominate a moderate to appeal to the Republicans in the Senate?
What types of liberal policies might get past a liberal Court, but not a conservative one?



Steven Lee said...
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Steven Lee said...
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Steven Lee said...

From what I have read in the news lately, Obama may be trying to choose Sri Srinivasan as a possible nominee for the vacant position. This would be extremely remarkable if Obama is able to get him as a SCOTUS Justice because then he would be the very first Indian American to serve on the bench. Currently, Mr. Sri Srinivasan is a federal judge for the D.C circuit, a very prestigious position since 4 out of the 9 Roberts Court Justices were on the D.C circuit before moving on to the Supreme Court (Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, and Ginsburg). What is remarkable about Mr. Srinivasan is that he got uninanimous votes when Obama suggested him for judge in the D.C Circuit (97-0). If President Obama indeed does push for Mr. Srinivasan to be on the bench then I have plenty of problems with it. First, he represented the CEO of Exxon Mobil on a case in which the security forces of Exxon were torturing, killing, and committing other human rights abuses in villages in Indonesia. Second, he represented a newspaper publisher that fired employees that unionized because in protest of "bias reporting". Third, Mr. Srinavasan represented the President of Enron during a fraud case in which he was found guilty. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Srinivasan, much like Mr. Obama himself, is a corporate sell out. Instead of Srinivasan, I would highly recommend someone like Larry Lessig or perhaps our own Goodwin Liu on the bench.

Huayu Ouyang said...

I'm not sure that Obama will be able to get a liberal justice confirmed by the GOP senate, because currently, it seems like the senate will basically block anyone Obama tries to nominate. The Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell even said “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.” However, in the past, even as recently as Reagan's presidency, justices have been nominated and confirmed in the president's final year, with Anthony Kennedy being confirmed in Reagan's last year. I agree that Obama may end up choosing a moderate that would more easily pass through the Senate and would put pressure on Republicans to hold hearings and a vote instead of trying to delay the confirmation to the next president. I think that if Republicans did try to delay a confirmation hearing, it would probably increase voter turnout because voters would realize the stakes behind the election, and since historically voter turnout increases benefit Democrats, this would probably hurt Republicans.

Kristen Tamsil said...
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Sameer Jain said...

I thought that Senator Elizabeth Warren's response to Mitch McConnell was pretty good:

"Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did — when President Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes."

I feel like it's definitely possible for Congress to break the record for the longest vacancy since the Supreme Court switched to the nine-judge system. The last record was set fairly recently, when Justice Abe Fortas resigned in May 1969 and was replaced in June 1970. Congress only needs to wait until two months after the next president is inaugurated to break the 391 day record.

Even though presidents have made appointments in election years previously, I think that the polarity of the candidates in this election will make Congress want to wait for the election now more than ever before. Obama's nominations will be liberal-leaning for sure. If Congress is able to delay, it has a chance at getting a conservative nomination in case a conservative president is elected.

However, I think doing so will be at the expense of congressional seats. If Congress does manage to delay the nomination until the next president, I think there will be a fair amount of negative media towards congress, and could possibly lead to the loss of some seats.

Kristen Tamsil said...

I don't think a lameduck president who is finishing up his term can or should appoint the next justice to replace Scalia. That act would be unproductive, given the election year, and the potential policy implications and changes that can result depending who becomes the next president of the US.

Janet Liu said...

In reference to Justin's earlier post, I wonder what's going to happen to the climate change plan? How about the executive action on immigration, also pending review in early summer? This is really exciting...Obama seems to be blocked by conservatives at every turn, including this one, but a carefully executed play might just win him back the court.

Emily Shen said...

This may be a late comment given that the White House has already declared its nominee (Merrick Garland), but one thing I would like to talk about is the liberal reaction to Scalia's death. It's a stretch to say that they were happy, but I know quite a few people who expressed almost relief ("thank goodness") at his death because of his staunch conservative viewpoints on issues like gay marriage. While I cannot say that I agree with many of his viewpoints, America has lost a brilliant mind. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, I don't think it's fair to deny that in the wake of his death.