SHAMEFUL: GOP Vows Not To Let Obama Replace Scalia, But Liberals Will Still Win
Justice Antonin Scalia’s body has barely cooled and already the GOP’s frothing at the mouth, spoiling for a fight, and heaping scorn and disrespect on President Barack Obama. Because, of course, there’s no way in Hell our GOP-run Senate will allow any of our president’s nominations to go through (thanks for losing Democrats the Senate, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz). As Reverb Press reported earlier, the conservative Supreme Court Justice died suddenly on Saturday during a hunting trip in Marfa, TX.
Apparently, Sen. Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans care more about taking every possible opportunity to disrespect a sitting president than they do about whether or not our country has a fully-functioning Supreme Court. What they don’t realize is that this may not end well for them.
Republicans certainly wasted no time. Less than an hour after the news of Antonin Scalia’s death became public, Conn Carroll, a staffer for Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) went on Twitter to taunt hopeful lefties:
What is less than zero? The chances of Obama successfully appointing a Supreme Court Justice to replace Scalia?
— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) February 13, 2016
Then, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell chimed in to declare that Justice Antonin Scalia’s love for his twisted version of the US Constitution is exceeded only by his love for his wife Maureen, their nine (!) children, and “many grandchildren.” McConnell then announced his intention of keeping Scalia’s place vacant “until we have a new president.” Take that, President O’bummer.
My statement on the passing of Judge Scalia. pic.twitter.com/4JSmbKWzDy
— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) February 13, 2016
Salon adds that both major GOP presidential candidates from the US Senate, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, followed suit in declaring their war on President Barack Obama and any attempt he may make to replace Antonin Scalia with a liberal Supreme Court justice.
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.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 13, 2016
Jeanette & I mourn the loss of Justice Scalia, and our thoughts & prayers are with his wife Maureen & his family. pic.twitter.com/e03KRZRM6q
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 13, 2016
Blocking Obama from Replacing Scalia may backfire on the GOP … Big time.
There’s just one problem with the GOP’s determination to block President Barack Obama from replacing Justice Antonin Scalia: It could backfire against them, big time. For starters, as Think Progress mentions:
The longest it has ever taken to confirm a Supreme Court nominee is 125 days. Obama has 361 days left in office.
361 days — almost a year! — is an awfully long time to go without a ninth justice on the US Supreme court. The last thing Republicans need in a presidential election year is to be seen as obstructive. The GOP won the Senate in 2014, but Salon reports the Democrats have a good chance of taking it back if, say, some issue arises that seriously gets out the vote.
Conventional wisdom has it that Democrats have a good chance of retaking the Senate majority just two years after losing it in the 2014 midterms. Of the 34 seats up for grabs, 24 belong to Republicans, some of whom were swept into office in the 2010 Tea Party wave and could get swept right back out again if the voting public decides it has seen enough of that crowd’s government-by-temper-tantrum ethos.
The untimely demise of Justice Antonin Scalia leaves the Republican party in a lose-lose situation that will increase the probability of a Democrat winning the White House while ensuring that rulings by the more liberal lower courts will stand.
Washington Post: ‘The next Supreme Court vacancy will favor liberals no matter who retires.’
Back in December, Linda Hirshman — the lawyer, pundit and author — wrote about this very scenario in The Washington Post (though she foresaw a conservative justice’s possible retirement, not their death). She explains that, according to Michael Stokes Paulsen, a conservative legal scholar, there’s nothing in the US Constitution to stop the Supreme Court from continuing with only eight justices. If the resulting decisions wind up being a 4-4 tie, then the lower court rulings would stand. In many cases, Hirshman points out, those rulings lean liberal:
Thanks to a wealth of recent Democratic appointments on the lower courts, letting the Supreme Court go down to eight justices would favor liberals. Conservatives wouldn’t like the regime of liberal rulings that would govern in most of the nation without Supreme Court oversight. And the prospect of liberal dominance may actually stiffen the spine of the historically more accommodating Senate Democrats.
Think Progress reports that out of seven hot-button issues coming before the Supreme Court, four are likely to have outcomes desired by liberals, even if President Barack Obama doesn’t get to replace Antonin Scalia with a more liberal judge.
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- Climate change: With Antonin Scalia present as the deciding fifth vote, the Supreme Court suspended President Barack Obama’s ambitious Clean Power Plan on Feb. 12. If the Supreme Court cannot come to a decision on West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, the final ruling will rest in the hands of three judges — two Democratic appointees and just one Republican appointee.
- Affirmative Action: Although Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from Fisher v. University of Texas, conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy sometimes votes with the liberal seemed “somewhat reluctant” to strike down affirmative action during the oral arguments.
- Rigging the vote: Evenwel v. Abbott would change how populations are counted and would favor white communities over communities of color. A tie in the Supreme Court would keep states from redrawing their congressional district maps.
- Unions: An evenly-divided Supreme court would result in a victory for unionized workers in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case.
Alas, a SCOTUS tie for the following three cases may leave women and undocumented immigrants to the mercy of geography, and the issues of abortion, birth control, and immigration policy would remain unresolved (but at least not permanently decided) to the detriment of women and immigrants):
- Abortion and birth control: Think Progress mentions that conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy often votes with the liberal bloc in “politically-charged” cases like these. But if there’s a tie, geography would win the day and women would be screwed. The staunchly conservative Fifth Circuit Court would uphold Texas’ draconian abortion laws (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt), and the Eighth Circuit Court would continue allowing employers to refuse to cover birth control for women on their health plans.
- Immigration: United States v. Texas challenges Barack Obama’s deferred action, which allows nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the US. If SCOTUS has a tie, all Hell would break loose, because the Fifth Circuit court would challenge Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DREAMers), less conservative circuits won’t follow suit, and the DOJ would likely get involved.
So this is the outlook on the Supreme Court until January, 2017. If that doesn’t get Democrats and left-leaning Independents to get out and vote for a Democratic Senator along with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, we don’t know what will.
Featured photo/composite: Public Domain 2009 © Official White House Photo by Pete Souza (Barack Obama); Public Domain 2009 Steve Petteway (Antonin Scalia); cc 2011 Gage Skidmore (Mitch O’Connell); cc 2011 Gage Skidmore (Ted Cruz); cc 2015 Gage Skidmore (Marco Rubio).