13 February 2016

Scalia's Death and Obama's Legacy

Obama will now have the opportunity to appoint a third justice to the Supreme Court. No one saw this coming and it will change the election to be sure. Prepare for some unbelievably contentious hearings. I look forward to it.

I am also eager to see how this will affect the remaining term.

This is quite a blow to the Right-wing takeover of the court and possibly reverses the huge gain they made with the appointment of Alito in place of Sandra Day O'Connor.

In the coming days Scalia will be praised especially by the Christian Right. A Roman Catholic idolater his adherence to Robert Bork's Originalist interpretation of the Constitution was and is without warrant and in fact contradicted the very legal and political development of American legislation and jurisprudence. It may produce judgments that Conservatives like but it's actually subversive.

But the Christian Right doesn't care about such things. He was bombastic and championed their cause.

I know one person who is feeling bitter relief... Chief Justice Roberts.

Scalia was getting out of control and had in recent years crossed the line on numerous occasions all but compromising the illusion of objectivity and the standards of conduct that are expected of the high court. Roberts won't have to intervene now. There may have been interventions 'behind the scenes' and maybe in subsequent years we'll learn of them, but Scalia was embarrassing the court and Roberts in particular with his conduct.

Scalia was not a Christian but you'll hear him all but praised as one in the coming days. Christianity of course has been re-defined by the Sacralist orthodoxy that dominates American Evangelicalism.

An interesting turn of events.


  1. Ted Cruz is on the judiciary committee. He'll be trying to score points even if he's out of the race by then. He's young and may have another WH shot in his future.

    It would be something if Bader-Ginsburg suddenly decided to retire. That would cement the change. Even if Obama appoints a centrist the court's composition will not be the same.

  2. The Republicans are already talking about delaying the nomination of a replacement. They want to wait until the next administration is sworn in, obviously hoping it will be a Republican one.

    That would mean that it would be about 14-15mos. minimum until there's a replacement. That would decimate the next term of the court.

    If you look up the last six appointees to the court, the average term from appointment to oath-taking is 2-3 months. There's no reason to wait until after the election. Even if Obama took a month to decide on the nominee, the confirmation and seating should be able to take place by June at the latest.

    But I think it will be a little more complicated...

  3. Here's the real explanation


    1. Is that a real site or a parody? Or did I just get trojan viruses on my computer?

  4. I didn't get a virus. That was hilarious but so was the SC GOP debate. What a train wreck. Trump is such a jerk but he actually made a few accurate statements tonight... how weird. They won't earn him points though.

    I wish Leonard Nimoy was still alive and could run for president! Thanks SeventhSage for sharing that very informative article. It's all clear to me now.

  5. We'll see what happens but at present it sounds like the Republicans in the Senate are going to push the nation into some kind of Constitutional crisis. This could get very ugly indeed.
    If they refuse to take up a Supreme Court nominee and tie the court up for two sessions at least... what is to be done? A recess appointment? Will the executive file a lawsuit against the senate? Can that be done?
    Watching that debate last night and now the increasing tensions regarding the nomination... this could be a turning point. People had better watch what they say. If the anger flows out on to the street the absurd stand off in Oregon might look like child's play.

  6. Hey John,

    I'm curious: have you taken the opportunity to listen to the latest podcast of Issues, Etc.? They did a segment on the recent death of Scalia and I was wondering if you had anything to say in response.

    I noticed one thing the guest kept repeating was his hope that the next judge would "protect the constitution" (almost like a broken record) and that such a criterion was "beyond politics". I'm not sure what to make of that statement but it doesn't sound right. I just can't put my finger on it.

  7. Today I listened to the Robert George segment... not impressed. But I don't think that was the segment you described. The only other one I saw that may fit the bill was the interview with Ed Meese. But if Ed Meese is going to pretend like he cares about the Constitution well, where to begin?

    What segment was it?

    George and many other 'Christian' commentators hail and praise the notion of Originalism. It resonates with many of them because you treat the Constitution like Scripture and exegete it. Except that's not how it was intended to be used. The Founders made that pretty clear and even if it was the principle was abandoned very early on because it wouldn't and didn't work. At that point virtually every single amendment is unconstitutional. In fact if you get into the Bill of Rights there were already arguments against the very notion, at least of some of them because they contradicted the Constitution by appropriating powers to the Federal government that the Constitution didn't grant.

  8. Whaaattt! Nimoy to the rescue!

  9. I think that's enough about Leonard Nimoy

  10. Hi John,

    Thanks for your response. To answer your question, yes, it was the segment with Ed Meese. They've posted a few more segments today devoted to Scalia.

    On a related note, I was wondering what your opinion was regarding Lutheranism in general and the Missouri Synod in particular. I ask this because, having listened to podcasts produced by some of their ministers, I've noticed some similarities between what they say and what you write on your blog.