If the upcoming Presidential election wasn’t important enough, the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has put a spotlight on one of the most critical functions of the President and the Senate – the appointment and confirmation of the members of the Supreme Court. This appointment is even more critical as the Court was viewed as a “center-right” body by a slim 5-4 margin with Scalia. The loss of the most conservative member now puts the court at 4-4 with several key decisions pending before it. What happens in the case of a tie vote?? The lower court’s ruling stands and in the current session that can mead heart ache for both Liberals and Conservatives.
Here are a few of the cases court watchers feel are most likely to end up 4-4 along with the ruling of the previous court:
Abortion: In what many are calling the most significant abortion case in decades, the court will hear a challenge to a Texas law in that in effect eliminates 75% of the abortion clinics throughout the state as a result of Legislative restrictions on abortion services…
Lower court upheld the restrictions, thus the closures would proceed
Immigration: A case that has received national attention, the court will consider whether the Obama Administrations executive order which protected undocumented workers from deportation and to allow them to continue to work.
Lower court ruled against Administration meaning deportation can proceed
Union Dues: Initiated by a case involving the California Teachers Association, the court is to decide whether public employees who choose not to join unions are still required to pay dues for the union’s collective bargaining activities.
Lower court ruled in favor of Unions, requiring support for bargaining activities
Voting Districts: The 14th Amendment sets that each legislative district must contain approximately an equal number of people. However, what is being challenged is whether districts should have the same number of people or the same number of eligible voters. A ruling for eligible voters would have significant impact in California as undocumented residents would not be counted, thus diluting heavily democratic urban districts.
Lower court ruled in favor of counting ALL residents, not just eligible voters
Along with the fate of these and several other major cases to be decided by the Supreme Court, the greater debate is now whether President Obama should nominate a replacement or leave a vacancy for the next President. I expect Obama will make a nomination and the Senate will simply not hold a hearing, which is their right as a co-equal branch of Government. And if you think this is some Republican ploy with no precedent look no further than the following quote from Vice President Joe Biden, who is now ironically the President of the Senate, where he said in 1992 on the Senate floor: “As a result, it is my view that if a Supreme Court Justice resigns tomorrow, or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not–and not–name a nominee until after the November election is completed”.
Can’t you just picture the Presidents reaction when that CSPAN video surfaced….Priceless.