Justice Scalia Dies at Age 79, Here’s What Happens Next: All-Out War

Antonin Scalia. Photo by Stephen Masker.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a rigid constitutionalist and defender of individual liberty, was found dead at a ranch in Texas today. Scalia was unquestionability a hero of the conservative movement, and he deserves a tremendous deal of credit for his commitment to protecting our freedoms. I’d love to write a long, glowing review of Scalia’s life and accomplishments, but frankly, there are men and women out there far more equipped for that task, and there’s too much at stake at the moment to spend time focusing on the man’s career. What will come next is far too important.

Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution sets forth the rules governing the nomination of a Supreme Court justice:

The President … shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law. …

President Barack Obama, perhaps the most liberal president the United States has endured since Woodrow Wilson, has the power to nominate Justice Scalia’s replacement. If Obama successfully places a liberal justice on the Supreme Court, that act would fundamentally alter the course of American history and could doom the cause of liberty in this nation for a generation or more. This may sound overly dramatic, but it’s not. The person who fills Scalia’s seat will change the course of history; that much is undeniable.

Thankfully, Obama is not a king, however much he’d like to be, and thus his choice must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Since 1925, the Senate Judiciary Committee has the responsibility of providing recommendations regarding nominees prior to them being voted on by the Senate. One the committee approves a nominee, the Senate must, by a majority vote, approve the nominee.

The current head of the Senate Judiciary Committee is Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a long-time Republican politician who has, generally speaking, has waffled at times on important conservative issues. As Conservative Review explains, Grassley has in recent years become more conservative, which is absolutely a positive sign for the fight that is certain to come over Obama’s future nominee:

Generally speaking, Grassley has become more conservative over the past few years – ever since his rise to Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee.  While he has supported amnesty in the past, he took a courageous stance against the Schumer-led “Gang of 8” amnesty bill and joined with Senator Sessions to fight it in committee and on the Senate floor.  He has also been a leading voice going back decades for whistle blowers, and more recently, oversight of the Obama Administration’s power-grabs, most notably, his work exposing the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal.

His newfound conservative voice on the Judiciary Committee has also spilled over to other issues within his purview on the Budget and Finance Committees.  Grassley has sided with conservatives against the Establishment on some of the key battles that split the conference, such as debt ceiling increases, large spending bills, defunding Obamacare, and the fiscal cliff tax increases.  He has also improved on Second Amendment issues and has been an effective voice against the Obama Administration’s zealous anti-gun policies. In addition, he led the effort to defund Common Core standards, which is now a conservative rallying call.

Now for the question you have all been wondering: Can the U.S. Senate continuously block Supreme Court nominees until a sitting president is no longer a sitting president? The answer is absolutely yes, but the political repercussions could potentially be disastrous, as most Americans believe the president ought to have the authority to put someone on the bench, even if it’s not the president’s first choice. I’m not aware of any situation in history in which a sitting president was prevented from eventually filling an open Supreme Court seat, and according to Tom Curry at MSNBC.com, “Since 1789, the Senate has rejected 12 out of the 144 nominees, the most recent being Robert Bork in 1987.”

With all that said, Republicans absolutely MUST fight this battle. Obama cannot be allowed to put a nominee on the Supreme Court. If he does, the power on the bench will decisively shift to the liberals, nearly all of whom would be relatively young, and our liberties will be wiped away by five individuals in black robes as if they never even existed.

In the hours since the news of Scalia’s death has been announced, there have been some positive signs to suggest Republicans will not allow Obama to successfully make an appointment. According to The Hill:

A spokesman for Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a conservative who sits on the Judiciary panel, immediately sent a message on Twitter that no nominee from Obama should be considered.

Several 2016 GOP White House hopefuls and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the next president, not Obama, should select Scalia’s replacement.

Ladies and gentlemen who support the cause of liberty, Republicans must not cave in this important moment in history, and if they do, the party must be abandoned completely. This is essentially an Alamo situation for conservatism. Let’s hope it turns out better for us than it did for them.


Picture: Antonin Scalia. Photo by Stephen Masker.