Sunday, February 14, 2016

Obama Needs To Act Quickly To Appoint A Scalia Replacement

Headshot of Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court
Antonin Scalia's death drew all kinds of nonsensical homage, including from Bernie Sanders. This is a guy who asked back in 2011, "Where are all the demons?"

Watching and listening to the candidates' responses to last night's first GOP debate question (on whether President Obama ought to appoint an Anton Scalia replacement), it was like an echo chamber except for one voice. All of the gathered Reepos, except for Trump.  asserted Obama should not make a move to appoint in an election year. But The Donald conceded it is fully within the President's purview and office, but did add "It is up to Mitch (McConnell) in the Senate to stop him". So all of them in one way or the other want the appointment stopped, or postponed. (Jeb did offer his 0.02 as well more or less on the same wavelength as Trump).

Look, we need to put the inevitable politicization (and polarization) aside and understand there are a host of serious issues on the Court's docket, including abortion rights, immigration and Obamacare. It is unfair to the citizens of this country to simply allow or enable a set of 4-4 deadlocked results all of which will end up as "no decision". Certainly, we ought to have the ballast and seriousness as a nation to move forward and hence it behooves Obama not to be paralyzed over this but to act quickly and decisively.

Waiting cannot be an option, especially given it could well be that we might (God forbid!) end up with a President Rubio or President Cruz who could appoint additions that would make Antonin Scalia look like Thurgood Marshall. It is difficult to comprehend such an abomination but fully within the realm of probability. For this reason Obama cannot just freely hand over this critical game changing appointment to a possible Republican. He must do it now, and the sooner the better.

I am even prepared to allow that the appointed Justice need not be a died in the wool liberal, not if it greases the wheels of the appointment process and makes the Repubs more likely to act. In that sense, I'd even be willing to go along with a centrist, though I'd prefer that person be a Democrat.

An encouraging sign is a report from CNN that the President is prepared to go to battle with Senate Republicans who are already calling for a freeze. This is a good sign and indicates Obama has not been cowed by the screeching voices of the Repubs and is prepared to give them a fight if that is what they want.

In particular, he needs to squelch the malarkey as parroted by Chuck Grassley that "it has been standard practice the past 80 years not to confirm Supreme court nominees in an election year."

Well, Grassley, then it's time that ancient custom be broken!     How does that go? "Justice delayed is justice denied."

To be sure, Scalia did a few things right in his rulings. In 1989, for instance, he begrudgingly agreed with the court that free speech rights protect burning the American flag.  However, this merely shows that "even a broken clock is right twice a day" and we can't depend on a conservative court appointee to even get that many rulings right.  And let's face facts, we can't trust any of these guys in their hearings.

Scalia, for example, vowed in his appointment hearings he'd never be a judicial activist, overturning long held rulings. Then, once he got through and had his robes he promptly became one of the most activist Justices of all. To read more on Scalia's detestable activism don't take my word! Check out this article from the center-right (not left!) Economist:
Let's hope Obama makes a sensible choice and that the Republicans have enough good sense to cooperate with what will likely be his last SC appointment. If they want to turn the balance of the court back to conservativism let them win the general election and then whoever it is can name whatever guys they want.

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