Justice Antonin Scalia was described as dedicated and uncompromising in his interpretation of the Constitution. He based many of his Supreme Court decisions on the language used in that original document. He was unwavering in his interpretation of the beliefs and thoughts of our founding fathers.
Scalia was found dead Saturday morning in his Texas hotel room. He was on a vacation trip with a group who planned to go quail hunting. He excused himself Friday night and retired to bed. He had told some people at the hotel that he was not feeling well.
The 79-year-old justice reportedly died of natural causes. His wife said that an autopsy will not be necessary. Scalia’s legacy will be his keen mind and his conservative principles. At least that’s the impression most of us will be left with. Many headlines in newspapers across the country said he was the “Conservative champion.”
His rulings against certain liberal causes were filled with caustic comments. He loved to argue but remained friendly with members of the Supreme Court in which he did not usually agree with. He was close friends with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who often has a more liberal interpretation of the law.
Scalia often said that you can disagree with someone but you don’t have to be disagreeable. He liked to argue with his more liberal justices but he did not take anything that was said personally.
Maybe some of our current Republicans who take up space in Washington, D.C. should take note of Scalia’s beliefs. If they did, they would respect the office of the presidency and realize that Barack Obama has a duty to select a nominee to replace Scalia.
Scalia had not even been laid to rest and Republicans were already ranting that Obama should not be allowed to choose a successor to Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) essentially said that Obama should not be allowed to select another chief justice. McConnell said that people should have a voice in deciding the next Supreme Court justice.
Well, that sounds so noble. But actually, it is pure politics. McConnell has kept his Senate majority by appealing to a conservative base, moderates and some members who are on the extreme right. The latter part of this group view Obama as the arrival of the anti-Christ. By saying that the will of the people needs to be respected, McConnell lets himself off the hook somewhat. But expressing that this is the will of the people, the focus will be on him, McConnell believes.
If McConnell can stall any selection to replace Scalia as Obama leaves office, he can look victorious in the eyes of his proponents. McConnell would like nothing more than to have one more final victory against Obama.
So, apparently that’s what this comes down to. McConnell and even some of the GOP presidential candidates are fearful of that the balance of the Supreme Court will tilt left. This is where everyone needs a dose of reality. McConnell knows better. The president has every right to select a nominee for the Supreme Court.
All you have to do is ask Donald Trump. The volatile GOP candidate said in the debate Saturday night that Obama has the right to choose the next nominee for the Supreme Court. Trump realizes this because Obama is the president. Trump added, of course, that it is up to McConnell and his GOP posse to stop him. They can do that be delaying and delaying, said Trump.
The assumption here by his opponents is that Obama will select an ultra-liberal justice to replace Scalia. What actually will occur is that Obama will wait a respectable amount of time before considering candidates, the majority of which will go under the title of moderate.
And what is wrong with that? A fair and balanced voice is needed during these chaotic times. A fight will occur whoever Obama chooses. I guess we will just have to see how this plays out in the end. Maybe Obama’s opponents will succeed.
They may succeed with no regard for all of the people. In the words of Scalia, we don’t have to be so disagreeable. Scalia was approved by a judiciary committee with a vote of 98-0 after President Reagan selected him in 1986. Maybe the Democrats were sidetracked by the simultaneous selection of Justice William Rehnquist, who had 33 opposing votes.
Scalia’s passing assures of one thing. A chaotic year will become even more chaotic.
Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.