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Tag Archives: Supreme Court Vacancy
When Justice Antonin Scalia died, Senate Republicans announced that they would not hold hearings because of their belief — not supported by any precedent — that a lame duck president should not get to fill a vacancy during his last year in office. Earlier this week, in a classic gaffe (i.e. he mistakenly told the truth), Senator John McCain announced that Senate Republicans intend to block any nominee that President Hillary Clinton might put forward. While Senator McCain has attempted to walk back this statement, he revealed what many of us have known to be true all along — the Republicans do not have any problem with any specific nominee that President Obama has or that President Clinton might put forward; there problem is with losing the majority on the Supreme Court.
If the Republicans can keep their current Senate majority, the process of blocking all nominees is simple — although with potential political consequences. They simply vote down any nominee. Their problem is if, as current polls suggest, the Democrats regain the Senate majority for the next two years. If that happens, we are potentially looking at the next conflict over the filibuster.
It has been four months since the untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Over that four months, we have gotten some proof about how important a full Supreme Court is to a functioning court. Today, we got more reminders.
In March, we learned that, in two cases heard before Justice Scalia’s death, the remaining eight justices were deadlocked 4-4, meaning that the decision of the lower court stood. One of these two cases involved a First Amendment challenge to mandatory union dues for public employees. The petitioners (the parties that lost in the lower court) in both cases have asked for rehearing, and the Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to grant rehearing. Today, we learned that two more cases had ended in a 4-4 tie. One of the two was a December case involving the jurisdiction of tribal court. The other (and the first deadlocked case argued after Justice Scalia’s death) was United States v. Texas — the immigration policy case. (Additionally, today saw a decision in the Affirmative Action case which I will discuss later this weekend.)