Sunday, February 14, 2016
Antonin Scalia, 79, the first Italian-American appointed to the Supreme Court, has passed away yesterday while on a hunting trip in Texas. It is believed he died in his sleep of natural causes.
Scalia was a giant on this Supreme Court, appointed in 1986 by President Reagan, and was the longest sitting justice on today's court. He was an intellectual conservative and a strict originalist in his interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. That means he believed in the words our Founding Fathers wrote as the meaning of the constitution and they always should be interpreted as so.
He did not believe in social activism in interpreting the constitution as he did not see our constitution as a 'living document.' What our Founding Fathers meant in the 1780's is what our constitution means today in the 21st century, according the Scalia.
He was actually opposed to the majority opinion of Brown vs. Board of Education in ending public school segregation and said many times that the constitution did not guarantee non-segregated schools; therefore, he believed segregated schools were not a violation of our constitution and could be allowed.
He was a strict proponent of the 2nd Amendment of the right to bear arms, although he did believe automatic weapons could be banned under our constitution.
He was nearly apoplectic over abortion and gay rights. He was against abortion (he was Catholic) in all instances and against gay rights and vehemently against same sex marriages.
And it was Scalia who lead the Supreme Court to choose George W. Bush as president by stopping the Florida vote count and denying Al Gore full due process.
His majority written opinions were many times vitriolic, caustic, and acerbic. His minority opinions were scathing and he took no prisoners.
Needless to say, he was my least favorite of the Supreme Court justices. As the old adage goes, "if you can't say something nice about someone, it is better to say nothing at all." Enough said.
Today, President Obama is in the important position of being able to nominate a person to fill Scalia's vacancy on the Supreme Court, and he should do so. It is his responsibility to do so as president and as leader of the Executive Branch of the government.
Republicans who have called for him, as a lame duck president, not to nominate someone and leave it to the next president, because the 'people' should do the choosing by who they elect in 2016, are disingenuous at best.
The people have chosen by electing Obama as president. So the people do want President Obama to nominate our next Supreme Court justice. It is ridiculous for any president, Democrat or Republican, not to nominate a qualified person to a vacant seat on the Supreme Court, lame duck or not. This is a decision that is part of our democracy as a nation and not a decision that is partisan.
If the tables were turned and George W. Bush was the lame duck president, Republicans would be shouting that Bush should be nominating someone to fill the vacancy.
Now, we are in for more gridlock and dysfunction in Washington as the Republicans once more hold our government hostage by refusing to allow Senate hearings for Scalia's successor. There is no precedent for what they are doing.
The checks and balances of our constitution with its three branches of government, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial, should be and would be upheld by Scalia. It is what the Founding Fathers wrote and what they wanted. The Republicans are hypocritical at best in this situation.
Copyright 2016 Suzannah Wolf Walker all rights reserved.