Justice Antonin Scalia Dead at 79

You'll have heard this by now.

The big issues - President Obama will nominate a replacement. The GOP Senate will not vote or confirm the nominee. What will this mean?


[Update TL below]}

Thanks, BTD for posting this. I hadn't seen the news when I posted the open thread. I just wrote a post on it but in the meantime, you got this post up, so I just deleted mine. Here's what I said:

How absurd that conservatives are suggesting President Obama should forego nominating a replacement for Justice Anton Scalia and let the next president do the honors. Obama put the kabosh on such nonsense tonight. He will (and should) name Scalia's replacement.

How did Justice Scalia die? I'm not seeing a cause of death yet (I've only been online a few minutes, and would not have known Justice Scalia died but for the comments in our open thread.)

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    Yes (none / 0) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 08:10:51 PM EST
    The president Will nominate a replacement.   IMO it means the whole shebang just got thrown into a cocked hat.

    Pass the popcorn.

    Yes - the year just got even crazier, (none / 0) (#3)
    by ruffian on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 08:18:31 PM EST
    just when I didn't think it was possible.

    At this point I would say (none / 0) (#4)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 08:27:25 PM EST
    Don't ever EVER say that.

    I think it means (none / 0) (#2)
    by smott on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 08:11:38 PM EST
    A 4-4 court for quite some time.
    Maybe til either Repubs are in the WH or Dems own the Senate?

    They'll vote after the election (none / 0) (#5)
    by Trickster on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 08:30:41 PM EST
    If a Republican wins - which, really, seems unlikely - they'll reject the nominee.  

    If a Democrat wins, probably they'll confirm him/her out of fear of getting a more liberal nominee on the other side.  GOP Senate gains might make them a little more inclined to hang tough and block the nominee.  

    Question is: will Obama throw down the gauntlet and nominate a genuine liberal?  Or will we see another modlib?  That, of course, would also affect the calculus.


    They can still make decisions I believe (none / 0) (#10)
    by ruffian on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:06:47 PM EST
    As long as there is a quorum. Does Roberts break a tie?

    No, the Chief gets one vote like any other (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Peter G on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:17:19 PM EST
    Justice on cases. 4-4 counts his vote. A tie vote affirms the decision of the court from which the case was appealed to the Supremes, but it does not make that lower court decision a binding national precedent the way a Supreme Court decision would be. This is going to be important in a number of dangerous cases this year, such as the case that threatened to invalidate affirmative action in admissions to state universities, which might well have come out badly by a 5-4 vote. It won't affect that many cases, though, since not that many Supreme Court decisions are really decided by a 5-4 vote.

    Peter, can you please,address (none / 0) (#18)
    by jbindc on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:22:30 PM EST
    What happens to those cases currently in the pipeline?  I know a case isn't considered decided until it's announced, so if the Court had opinions they were going to to release in the next few weeks or so, will we still see decisions with 9 votes?

    Pretty sure that a Justice's vote is not final (none / 0) (#22)
    by Peter G on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:30:36 PM EST
    until the decision is announced. So even if a Justice reads the briefs, hears argument, and votes in conference for a certain outcome, and even if s/he approves a draft opinion, that Justice's vote is disallowed if s/he dies before the opinion is filed and publicly announced. This is a different rule from what applies in lower federal courts, by the way. And let me say I am not 100% sure about this. Was asking myself the same question earlier. Have not tried to research it to confirm.

    From your link (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by jbindc on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:33:31 PM EST
    "The passing of Justice Scalia of course affects the cases now before the Court.  Votes that the Justice cast in cases that have not been publicly decided are void."

    Well, if that's what Tom Goldstein says (none / 0) (#25)
    by Peter G on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:40:58 PM EST
    then that's correct. I should have read more closely. Obviously missed an important sentence!

    All good (none / 0) (#26)
    by jbindc on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:43:08 PM EST
    I didn't even think to go to SCOTUSblog in the first place!

    Oops, I was wrong about the affirmative action (none / 0) (#19)
    by Peter G on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:25:13 PM EST
    case (Fisher). Because of prior participation in the litigation, Justice Kagan is recused from that case. So it was already an 8-member Court. With Scalia gone, the decision now might be 4-3 to disallow affirmative action in public education. (My link is to the SCOTUSBlog item discussing this year's close cases in light of justice Scalia's death.

    Thanks for that (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:28:24 PM EST
    If its 4-4 (none / 0) (#12)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:12:46 PM EST
    It's null.  The lower court decision stands.

    I read that if there is a tie (none / 0) (#13)
    by Towanda on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:13:18 PM EST
    the decision reverts to the lower court's ruling.

    I hope that is not necessarily so, since I have a few cases in mind that are coming to the court. . . .


    Yes, I know there are some important ones (none / 0) (#15)
    by ruffian on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:16:20 PM EST

    Otoh (none / 0) (#17)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:18:49 PM EST
    It might be good news with abortion, contraception and affirmative action on the docket.

    Don't know what the lower court rulings were on those but they can always be brought again when the odds are better.


    Reports are (none / 0) (#6)
    by jbindc on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 08:31:09 PM EST
    He died of "natural causes".

    He apparently did not feel well went he went to bed last night, and he did not wake up.

    Sounds exactly like what happened to my father.  I mean, Scalia was 79 - it's not a complete surprise.

    I hope I go like that (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by ruffian on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 08:57:27 PM EST
    RIP. Nino. And of course it is a shock to his family going so fast.  Today a very good friend of mine is moving her terminally ill father into her home for hospice care, where his whole family can be with him. I don't know which would be harder. My father went suddenly at 82, and I think that was easier, even though a shock.

    I have considerable experience (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:01:57 PM EST
    With dying slowly.   Way to much actually.

    I want to drop dead watching Game of Thrones between mouthfuls of popcorn.


    You are (none / 0) (#11)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:09:08 PM EST
    too funny.

    But not tonight, I might add (none / 0) (#14)
    by ruffian on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:15:11 PM EST
    I have to know how this election turns out. Plus, it's the Cubs' year.

    Scalia impersonator makes news (none / 0) (#9)
    by Towanda on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:01:57 PM EST
    when with a tweet, by mistake, by Ron Johnson.

    Seems karmic, since Johnson impersonates a Senator.

    So.... is it possible (none / 0) (#21)
    by desertswine on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:30:08 PM EST
    that we can have an 8 person Supreme Court for the next 9 years supposing that a Democrat wins the pres election?

    Or maybe a seven... (none / 0) (#23)
    by desertswine on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:31:40 PM EST
    or six person court if any more justiced pass away.

    Yes (none / 0) (#27)
    by ruffian on Sat Feb 13, 2016 at 09:47:48 PM EST
    a quorum of 6 is needed to hear a case.