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Loss of Antonin Scalia


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The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is certainly unexpected. Although 79, he's been in pretty good health for a while and his death is certainly a surprise.

President Obama will likely have a nominee to fill his spot on the court in fairly short order, butm coming during an election year, that should be fraught with political fireworks. Already the Senate Judiciary Committee has apparently said (according to CBS) they're rather over-booked, but in the absence of a rapid replacement the Court will be stuck with 4-4 decisions for quite a while, meaning that different parts of the country will be left with competing rulings.

Hang on to your hats, folks. Election 2016 will likely be more brutal than even Donny and Burning Hills could have made it.

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In my opinion, the Repubs are taking a huge chance by not moving on Obama's selection, whomever it is. They have no idea who'll be the next president, and even worse, no idea who'll rule Congress. If Hillary wins and Democrats control the Congress, we're much more likely to have a far more liberal justice named than if they'd go with Obama's choice.


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I have no doubt that the Republican members of Congress will do everything in their power to prevent President Obama from appointing the next member of the Supreme Court. The consequences of that action will leave the court in a 4-4 split for much of the agenda that they have in the calendar for this year...and maybe next.

I cannot feature a President Cruz of a President Trump making such a choice. Trump knows nothing about the US system of justice unless it is a bankruptcy or divorce court​, and then he paid lawyers for that. Scalia allowed his Catholic religion to influence his decisions and mentioned his faith on many occasions as the deciding factor. Cruz might choose some right wing evangelical Christian as his Supreme pick which would set back the court a century or two.

I didn't like the Scalia who thought gays were the sum of the earth, but better the enemy you know than the one you don't. The next few months are either going to be very interesting or very trying.

The Scalia mindset in the court was that the Constitution should be read and interpreted as written, that made him an "originalist." That train of thought is also true of those Bible believers who don't see anything wrong with a 2000 year old religious text that has fewer applications in the modern world as time marches on.

Scalia did not think the Constitution was a "living document" that should be allowed to change. So much for all the amendments added since the original was decided. No society or group of leaders has all the answers, perhaps just those that apply at the moment. Scalia was against change at a time when so many rules need to be changed. Let's hope his successor is a bit more flexible.

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Someone here probably knows, but I don't and haven't seen an answer in my reading. A four-four deadlock in the Court has the case reverting to the Appeals Court decision from whence it came, making that decision law. What I don't know is, when there are again nine SC Justices, are those cases that were deadlocked then heard, do they need to be repealed again for that to happen, or are they fixed and done with?


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My understanding is that a 4-4 split leaves the lower court ruling unchanged. That lower court ruling does not become the law of the land and is not binding on other districts (unlike a Supreme Court ruling). However, it would take another case to bring the issue in question back to the Supreme Court in the future -- they won't review that specific case again

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Graeme makes a valid observation. If there is a split on an issue at the Circuit Court level a 4-4 vote at the Supreme Court merely leaves the split intact until a case comes forward at some future time that rises to the Supreme Court level. [The Supreme Court actually takes only a small fraction of the cases that seek its decisions.] If there is no split at the circuit level, then the tie at SCOTUS essentially affirms the lower-court decision.

One of the upcoming key cases this term may not be affected because the liberal Justice Kagan has recused herself, so a tie is not numerically possible.

With respect to Cole's point, relatively few laws rise to the level of Constitutional scrutiny or are decided differently at the Circuit Court level (on issues that involve Constitutional issues, such as searches and seizures in the electronic age or gun control). Justice Scalia, by the way, had no problem with different decisions at the state level, particularly with respect to gay marriage. He thought the people of each state could decide the issue in their own way. What he objected to was establishing a Constitutional right to it. Laws at the state level can and do differ on many things, some nearing Constitutional questions; these are, as the late Justice Brandeis said, the laboratories of democracy.

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"Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached." -Antonin Scalia

But continuing analysis reveals that that is NOT a quote by Scalia. You can read the decision in its entirety and make a more appropriate decision:


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I don't mind speaking ill of the dead.

Scalia was a huge Catholic bigot.

He never missed an opportunity and went out of his way, to shit on gay people.

He compared gay people to criminals: http://www.bustle.com/articles/124856-antonin-scalia-compares-gay-americans-to-criminals-again-he-seriously-needs-to-stop

And of course he compared us to pedophiles and used the old straw man argument that if we have gay rights that equals pedophile rights. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/scalia-gay-people-pedophiles

He was an all around asshole. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/gay-marriage-supreme-court-scalia-dissent

This is one mutt that improved the lot of America by dropping dead and good riddance.

Now if Obama is smart, he'll pick a moderate that will piss off everybody and serve as a voice of common sense between the 4 designated liberal and 4 designated conservative judges.

He won't.

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In a long interview at a Federalist Society meeting, Scalia said that he has never expressed his private views on gay marriage, abortion and the like.

His point in the remarks at Georgetown and elsewhere is that the decisions about such issues should be made by the elected representatives of the people, not by unelected judges, serving, in many cases, for life. To him, how decisions are made are more important in most cases than what decisions are made.

To understand Scalia, one needs to understand the difference.

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Loathing the man and loathing his view of the Constitution should be kept separate. In terms of the man, look for the (likely) tribute to come from Justice Ginsburg, his colleague on the court and the complete opposite philosophically.

All of the justices have released statements regarding Justice Scalia. Justice Ginsburg's was:

Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: “We are different, we are one,” different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the “applesauce” and “argle bargle”—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh. The press referred to his “energetic fervor,” “astringent intellect,” “peppery prose,” “acumen,” and “affability,” all apt descriptions. He was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader’s grasp.

Justice Scalia once described as the peak of his days on the bench an evening at the Opera Ball when he joined two Washington National Opera tenors at the piano for a medley of songs. He called it the famous Three Tenors performance. He was, indeed, a magnificent performer. It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend.

For those who aren't aware, the opening sentence is about an opera that was written about the two of them. As vwl indicated, while ideologically poles apart, the two were very good friends.

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I agree with Cole & Jim although I'd not go to the bother of dancing on him.

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