|U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.|
(Photo from Wikimedia)
The Robert Barnes
The death of Justice Antonin Scalia Saturday plunged the Supreme Court and the nation’s politics into turmoil, and an immediate partisan battle began over whether President Obama should be allowed to nominate his successor.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said in a statement that the Senate should not confirm a replacement for Scalia until after the election.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” McConnell said.
But the battle lines were immediately apparent. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid followed McConnell’s statement with one of his own:
“It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat,” he said. “Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”
Scalia’s shocking death also creates doubt about the outcome of a Supreme Court term that was filled with some of the most controversial issues facing the nation: abortion, affirmative action, the rights of religious objectors to the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act, the president’s powers on immigration and deportation.
An eight-member court could split on all of those issues.