Reports are breaking the news that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died at the age of 79. The Justice was considered one of the most conservative members of the Court and the balance of opinion in the Court is now up for grabs.
The Court has had a conservative majority for years and while President Obama has appointed two new Justices during his term, he will likely face significant challenges to appoint a third. The Republic controlled Senate may very well block any appointment until after the election.
With Justice Scalia’s death, the only remaining Reagan Era appointee will be Justice Kennedy.
The Court has been seen as the only control left on a partisan government frequently not listening to the people who put them in office. It remains to be seen if the President has the political might to get a new Justice in place before his term of office expires.
He cannot simply appoint by Executive Order this time.
This event will also likely polarize the election process even further. There is a great possibility that it could distract the Democrats because it could cause conflict with the sitting President though they will surely have thoughts of who they want in that seat.
Whether or not Obama would entertain their choices, and loose his chance to have a third Justice sitting would be an interesting conversation.
The Republicans on the other hand, now have yet another opportunity to push the voters in the direction they want by proclaiming a fear fest of what a Liberal court majority might do to the country.
Only time will tell.
As long as there are six sitting Justices, the Court will continue but may defer significant cases until there is a full court.
Biography courtesy of http://www.supremecourt.gov/about/biographies.aspx
Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice,
was born in Trenton, New Jersey, March 11, 1936. He married Maureen McCarthy and has nine children – Ann Forrest, Eugene, John Francis, Catherine Elisabeth, Mary Clare, Paul David, Matthew, Christopher James, and Margaret Jane. He received his A.B. from Georgetown University and the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and his LL.B. from Harvard Law School, and was a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University from 1960–1961. He was in private practice in Cleveland, Ohio from 1961–1967, a Professor of Law at the University of Virginia from 1967–1971, and a Professor of Law at the University of Chicago from 1977–1982, and a Visiting Professor of Law at Georgetown University and Stanford University. He was chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section of Administrative Law, 1981–1982, and its Conference of Section Chairmen, 1982–1983. He served the federal government as General Counsel of the Office of Telecommunications Policy from 1971–1972, Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States from 1972–1974, and Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel from 1974–1977. He was appointed Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1982. President Reagan nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat September 26, 1986.