Date: February 18, 2016
Host: Jim Schneider
In the days following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday, February 13, 2016, the battle lines have been drawn over whether the vacanceys should be filled now, or after a new president is inaugurated who will then make the nomination.
Scalia was on one of the most conservative voices on the high court, often explaining his views by expounding on the Constitution and what it did or did not say. These positions contrasted with the opinions of other justices, who used social arguments, or international court precedents, often with little mention of any connection with the dictates of the supreme law of the land, the U.S. Constitution.
Because any new justice will affect court decisions for many years to come, the rhetoric has been heated about which president should make that decision. Democrats and liberals have been vocal in demanding that the U.S. Senate “do its job” and hold hearings and confirm the person to be nominated by Barack Obama, knowing that the new justice would likely have more liberal leanings. But others show the precedent of other nominations made in the waning days of a presidency, which were not confirmed and the succeeding president ultimately made the nomination that the Senate ratified. In fact when President George W. Bush nominated a justice with 19 months left in his final term, Senator John Shumer said that no Bush nominee should be confirmed. And while the Senate does have the responsibility to confirm the next nominee, the Constitution does not give a timetable for such action.
Barack Obama is receiving criticism for his decision not to attend the Scalia funeral mass on Saturday, February 20. But he and other administration officials do plan to pay their respects on Friday, February 19, when Scalia’s body will be lying in state in the Great Hall at the Supreme Court.
Jim presented a number of statements by various officials and organizations to give their reactions, and the possible impact of the loss of Scalia on current and future cases to be considered by the Supreme Court before a new Justice can take his seat.