Sunday, February 14, 2016

If Republicans block Supreme Court nomination, Obama wins anyway

By Linda Hirshman February 13 at 11:00 PM WashPost

Linda Hirshman is the author of "Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World."

After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death Saturday at 79, the Supreme Court is now evenly divided between four liberal justices and four conservatives, even with Anthony Kennedy’s occasional swings. What a moment for Scalia to depart: The court faces a wild array of closely divided decisions. It is an election year. And President Obama has stacked the lower circuit courts with Democrats. Obama has been chewing on his legacy for months. Fate has handed him the opportunity of any presidency — to swing the balance of the Supreme Court from conservative to liberal.

Scalia weighed heavily on the conservative tilt of the current court, registering as more conservative even than other Republican justices in every field except on international and defense issues. There is no other justice whose replacement would more profoundly affect the court’s orientation. The court’s docket this term shows a clear intent to rule on some of the most contentious issues in the society: abortion, unionization, presidential power, affirmative action, political representation. Nothing in the presidential election in the fall matters more than the ability to shape the court. Now everyone should know that, including an incumbent who once taught constitutional law.

Any nominee, of course, would have to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. Leaders there, and also most GOP presidential candidates, are already making clear that they intend to block Obama. But they may not realize that leaving Scalia’s seat vacant plays right into his hands.

(More here.)

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