Sunday, February 14, 2016

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016) RIP

Early this morning, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at the age of 79. While I may not have agreed with many of his decisions, he was always an honest broker and a strong believer in the original meaning of the words of the Constitution of the United States.

He also did something rare and unusual — he made the Supreme Court approachable by the ordinary citizen. When I was in high school, Supreme Court arguments were seldom mentioned in the newspapers. In oral arguments, the two opposing councils merely read their statements and maybe a question or two would then be asked. Since President Ronald Reagen appointed Justice Scalia to the bench, the lawyers would barely get started before Justice Scalia or one of his colleagues would fire off a question to be answered. This made following the action at the Supreme Court actually newsworthy on a regular basis — a much needed improvement.

Justice Scalia, may you now and forever rest in peace. Your watch is done; your victory won. May the Lord take you into his house to sit at his right hand.

Now, it falls on our current President, President Obama, to nominate a successor to Justice Scalia. Because he is a "lame duck," the current crop of presidential contenders, on both sides of the aisle, are urging him to wait until after the next President is elected and inaugurated.

I strongly disagree — Justice Scalia died on his watch, therefore President Obama should nominate his successor. In the current climate in the United States Senate, I do not believe, however, that any jurist nominated by President Obama or even his successor stand much of a chance of being confirmed by two-thirds of the Senate. It is his job to try, however.

As lawyer-turned-journalist Greta Van Susteren wrote today:

The U.S. Constitution, Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2 says presidents nominate justices to the Supreme Court. It says the president SHALL and does not say MAY. This means it is not an option.(Huffington Post)

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