Let us first acknowledge the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. A Constitutional literalist, he looked at the law as a literal thing, with as little emotion as possible. And while this could be seen as a bad thing, his seeming dispassion gave us some very interesting insight to the Constitution. He looked at that document not as a living breathing ever-evolving document, but as a document that was written “in stone” as it was and he was going to interpret it as the Framers intended it to be.
But since his passing, I am appalled by my more liberal friends’ grave dancing. We are talking about the passing of a human being, no matter his flaws and political beliefs. Yes, Justice Scalia had some rather racist and misogynist views. But he was a human being, leaving behind a family and friends who will miss him terribly.
Now, on to what this is really about –
The Supreme Court has not been a Liberal court since Earl Warren retired in 1969. It became increasingly Conservative in the 70s as Nixon, Reagan and Bush II appointed their picks to the bench. Justices Kagan and Sotomayor help to balance out the ideological currents of the Court. The chance to have a Liberal Court once again is something that is almost too good to pass up.
The precedent of having a lame duck president appoint a Justice to the Court is nothing new. Mr. Reagan did it, Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Eisenhower, Mr. Carter, and the list goes on. The point being is that the chance to even appoint a Justice is rare. And one that should never be passed up. Leaving the Court split 4-4 leaves the work of the Court dangerously backlogged. Rather like holding up all of the appointments to the Circuit Court Judgeship, as Congress has done the last 6 years, because, well, they are Mr. Obama’s choices.
We are a country of laws. These laws are not based on the Bible or any other religious text, but based on the Constitution, which is interpreted by the Supreme Court, should no other court be able to come to an agreement. It is incumbent on our Congressional leaders to do the right thing and make sure that the candidate for this seat be installed as soon as possible so that the work of this Court can move forward as soon as possible.