Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in Texas on Saturday threatens to throw American politics into crisis.
Scalia, 79, was spending the weekend at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region. He had arrived on Friday and attended a party with around 40 people. But when he didn’t show up for breakfast on Saturday, hotel employees went to his room and discovered his body.
Officials say there were no signs of foul play.
The death of Scalia, a stalwart conservative voice on the Supreme Court, is a serious blow to America. The Supreme Court regularly splits 5-4 on decisions in recent years, with Scalia reliably taking the stance of constitutional originalist, opposed to the make-it-up-as-you-go, living-document leanings of some other members of the court.
Almost immediately upon his death, Democrats were calling for a quick nomination of a new justice by President Obama. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell beat them back by insisting that the voters have a say in choosing the new justice by waiting until the presidential election has been decided.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Democrats were having none of it. Sen. Patrick Leahy , the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “It is only February. The president and the Senate should get to work without delay to nominate, consider and confirm the next justice to serve on the Supreme Court.”
You can practically hear the drooling, like Pavlov’s dog at the sound of a bell, or a shark at the whiff of blood.
“This president, who has shown such contempt for the Constitution and the laws, is the last person who should be appointing his successor,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel at the Judicial Crisis Network, expressing the thoughts of many conservatives.
If President Obama were to pick the new Supreme Court justice, it would assuredly drag the court to the left, locking in the radical agenda that has been hammering away at America for the past seven years.
As it is, Scalia passed at a time when he was due to help decide a major abortion rights case, as well as cases involving illegal immigration and other hot-button political issues. Without his balancing hand, it’s more likely than ever that justice will not prevail at the Supreme Court.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement praising Scalia as “an unwavering defender of the written Constitution” and a man of God.
Abbott said, “He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution. We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.”
Scalia will be sorely missed.