Jim Porter: Justice Scalia’s death generates more political polarization
February 22, 2016
As everyone knows, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly in Texas while on a hunting trip. He was 79. Justice Scalia leaves his wife Maureen and nine children.
While his conservative Opinions were acerbic and often overly-critical of the majority Opinion, they were sprinkled with humor and always well reasoned. He was brilliant and by all accounts a decent man, and as we now know, the "best buddy" of Justice Ginsburg – his liberal sparring partner on the Court.
The condolences to the Scalia family lasted about 20 minutes. Then the partisan politics began. The Republican presidential candidates paused for a moment, then unloaded, with all but Jeb Bush (who is looking better every day) demanding that President Obama not make a replacement appointment — which would leave an unprecedented year-long vacancy.
Makes My Blood Boil
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Even before the nutty conspiracy theorists cranked up noting that Scalia was discovered with a pillow on his face and did not have his usual security detail at the hunting ranch, Senate Majority Leader Mitch "Meathead" McConnell told the world: "This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President."
McConnell said Republicans would reject any court nominee offered by Obama no matter how qualified. That makes my blood boil.
Republicans Created 'The Donald'
Recall that McConnell within hours of President Obama's first election went on record saying his primary role as a Senator would be to stop any proposals offered by Obama no matter the merits.
That insane strategy started, or seriously exacerbated, the polarization of Congress. And the Dems drew battle lines in stubborn retaliation.
You can't run a government where half of the elected officials refuse to cooperate with the other half — in any way. Such polarization destroys the American system of government.
McConnell and his opposition-types opened the door and created their own monster: carnival barker Donald Trump; and religious-guy Ted Cruz. Both, strangely appealing, campaign on vague promises of less government, "telling it like it is," and not giving a damn what others think.
Beholden to no one; plus, an occasional "carpet bomb" pledge to show our enemies who is in charge. And many, mostly Republicans it seems, are eating it up. Angry voters tired of dysfunction wanting a change. Can hardly blame them. Bernie Sanders is riding the same time-for-a-change wave, but in the other direction.
A Political Opportunity
But I digress. I offer that Justice Scalia's untimely death creates an opportunity for both Democrats and Republicans, as President Obama will be forced to nominate a well-qualified moderate, a refreshing addition to the Court.
For what it's worth, despite Republican claims, it is not unusual for a President to fill a Supreme Court vacancy during an election year, the last time being in 1988 when one of the best Justices on the Court, Anthony Kennedy, was appointed. By the way, Justice Kennedy is a Sacramento guy.
The Senate should pay homage to Justice Scalia by honoring the Constitution, his passion, by approving his successor (if qualified) and not "delay, delay, delay," as Trump smirked.
Rant, Rant, Rant
With only eight and not nine Justices, several lower court cases set to be heard by the Court this year will likely not be overturned as many commentators had predicted – to the chagrin and disadvantage of the Republican party. Shoot yourself in your strident foot Meathead.
Republicans: your best opportunity for a moderate Supreme Court appointment is now – before Hillary beats Rubio.
How's that for an off-the-cuff rant? Comments welcome.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno. Jim's practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at email@example.com or http://www.portersimon.com.