When Antonin Scalia left us last weekend, I had mixed thoughts. I rarely, if ever, agreed with his opinions, but I did enjoy reading them. Perhaps not on the level of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr or Robert H. Jackson, but the man could argue well. But he won’t be writing any more opinions, and though I understand that some decisions that have not been announced have been decided based on his participation, there are a lot of cases to decide between now and the end of June that will be decided by eight justices. It’s important that his seat not remain empty for too long.
Even if a new justice were to be nominated and confirmed in the next 100 days, which is not far from the historical norm, the replacement wouldn’t be sworn in until the last week of May and I don’t think a new justice would actually be voting on cases that had already been heard before he joined the court. Best case, we’re looking for a new justice to be ready for the next term in October.
The witlings in charge of the Senate have announced that they won’t even consider a nomination until after the next president is sworn in. Now whoever is elected in November will certainly have a candidate in mind by the inauguration, so it’s quite possible that the next justice would be nominated on 20 January 2017, at which point the Senate Judiciary Committee would start hearings and all the fun would begin. A hundred days later would be the end of April, by which point the bulk of the cases in the next term would have been argued. In effect, the court would be operating with an empty seat for very nearly two terms.
The old white men in charge of the Senate don’t want no black man choosing the next justice, they’ve dissed him every way they could think of and they’re just loving the chance to do it again. They have no logic behind their arguments, there never has been any “unwritten law” about not making judicial nominations during election years. But then nobody thought their arguments had anything to do with their decision. If anything, they should be worried about the lifestyles and the coronary fitness of Alito, Roberts, and Thomas. (It certainly was inconsiderate of Justice Scalia to die at this particular moment, don’t you think? Of course, even Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz are bright enough not to actually say that!) They don’t like Obama, they can’t wait for him to go away, and they’re going to ramp up their already-legendary obstructionist tactics.
If I Were King, of course the parliament would be involved, that “advise and consent” process in our constitution is a fine and valuable thing. But I’m not, and all thinking persons are going to need to put the heat on their senators this spring, because a big bunch of them want to take their ball and go home, a sorry bunch of spoiled children.
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