Activist Monday: There Went the Judge
Posted February 15, 2016on:
Good Monday, everyone! It looks like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has gone to face some judgment of his own. He passed away yesterday at a hunting resort in West Texas, under what seem to be natural causes at this time.
For those of us on the left-leaning side of the fence, the 79-year-old’s passing was not exactly cause for mourning. In fact, it gave rise to a great deal of speculation about what Obama will do with this unexpected opportunity, and what it will mean for the Court going forward.
In some cases, a diminished conservative majority might mean unexpected victories for liberals.
The best example of that concerns a battle over public employee union fees that the court considered last month.
At oral arguments, the court seemed prepared to hand a significant defeat to organized labor and side with a group of California teachers who claim that their free-speech rights are violated when they are forced to pay dues to the state’s teachers union.
The court’s conservatives — Scalia included — appeared ready to junk a 40-year-old precedent that allows unions to collect an “agency fee” from nonmembers to support collective-bargaining activities for members and nonmembers alike.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, citing that precedent, had ruled for the union. And with the Supreme Court’s liberals seemingly united in upholding the precedent, a 4-to-4 vote would mean the union victory would stand.
But what’s all this talk of 4-4? Doesn’t the Supreme Court have nine Justices? Well, yes…but the confirmation process could be a bit painful. The entire Republican platform, for the past several years, seems to be about opposing Obama and all Democrats. Getting a liberal justice past this Congress seems very unlikely. But what if the Democrats take over the Senate in 2017? (Oh please oh please oh puleeeeeez!) In that case, he might just pick the person he wants and hope that the next President and Senate turn out the way he wants them to. In that case, what would incumbent Republicans do?
…Do they vote no with their party and risk alienating a sizable chunk of swing voters who may already be put off by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, or do they go out on a limb and support Obama’s nominee?
“I’m sure every Republican senator up for reelection would give anything not to have to cast a vote about a Supreme Court nominee,” said Russell Wheeler, a judicial expert with the Brookings Institution. This quandary is particularly acute for senators running in states that voted for Obama in 2012, such as Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
Mwahaha! Oh, the POOR Republicans. Bless their hearts!
Who would have thought that the Supreme Court would suddenly be just as hot as the Bern and Hillz saga – or maybe hotter? We do indeed live in interesting times. my friends.
This is an open thread.
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