Is U.S. Senator Charles Schumer a world-class hypocrite on the subject of replacing the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and are the conspiracy theorists all wet about the jurist, for whom this morning’s USA Today carries what might be called a marvelous eulogy by a Georgetown law professor?
Gun prohibitionists are chomping at the bit to fill the vacancy with an activist liberal who would be the philosophical opposite of Scalia, especially on the individual right to keep and bear arms. It has become a hot button topic in presidential politics, where gun control has already been made a campaign issue.
UPDATE: Rasmussen Reports this morning released the results of a national telephone survey that said 51 percent of likely U.S. voters think President Barack Obama should not pass on the decision to name a replacement for Scalia on the high court. Forty-three percent think he should put it off.
“If the president does nominate someone,” Rasmussen said, “53% say the Republican-led Senate should not reject or refuse to consider the nomination. Thirty-five percent (35%) think the Senate should block any Obama nominee in order to allow the next president to choose Scalia’s replacement. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided.”
Schumer is reportedly crying “foul” that anyone would contrast his argument this past Sunday in support of holding hearings on a replacement nominated by President Barack Obama, with what he said back in 2007, about filling high court vacancies during President George Bush’s final year in office. Perhaps the most important thing Schumer said in that 2007 speech, which may be read here, is this: “Ideology matters.”
In Schumer’s book it evidently does. Ideologues always want their point of view, their philosophy, to be respected while they dismiss, if not immediately trample, an opposing view. And they really dislike being publicly called to account by their own words.
The other day, Schumer insisted that the Senate must entertain a replacement nomination. In 2007, this is what he said, as noted by the Washington Examiner: “With respect to the Supreme Court at least, I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court except in extraordinary circumstances.”
When one talks about “extraordinary,” that term could apply to Scalia. Randy E. Barnett, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, fondly wrote this morning about Scalia in USA Today. It is a reminiscence about a man whose influence on American justice just might be the gold standard, at least where conservatives and Second Amendment advocates are concerned.
“But despite our disagreements,” Barnett writes, “I always respected him as a jurist who strived, however imperfectly, to put the rule of law ahead of his own political preferences. He was never the right-wing bogeyman his critics made him out to be. I will miss him, but American constitutional law will never forget him.”
Scalia’s untimely death Saturday in Texas not only ignited a furious debate over filling his seat on the Supreme Court bench, but also provided an opening for conspiracy theorists to argue that he was the victim of foul play. There’s even a discussion floating around about a CIA “heart attack gun.”
But Newsmax, alluding to reports in U.S. News & World Report and ABC News, may cool some jets. The news organ is refuting arguments from some corners that Scalia was a healthy fellow whose death is suspicious.
“Although Scalia appeared vigorous,” Newsmax reported, “he had a history of heart trouble, high blood pressure, and was recently considered too weak to undergo surgery for a shoulder problem, according to US News & World Report.”
Newsmax quotes Dr. Chauncey Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic. According to Dr. Crandall, “A heart attack resulting in the stoppage of the heart is known as sudden cardiac death. This can happen at night during sleep, like with Justice Scalia, but it can also happen while people are awake, which is what happened to James Gandolfini” the star of “The Sopranos.”
The story also notes an ABC News report that “Scalia’s relatives and doctors knew about his health conditions, but experts say the fact that the concerns were kept from the public is in keeping with the practices of the (Supreme) court.”
More importantly, Newsmax noted that, “About 325,000 people die from sudden cardiac death each year, which is the largest cause of death in the U.S. It occurs when a heart attack stops blood flow to the heart, which causes the heart to beat too quickly and irregularly, and it ultimately stops.”
Scalia’s friends and admirers uniformly agree that his heart stopped many years too soon. He seemed intellectually still at the top of his game. Rights activists dearly wanted his perspective if another Second Amendment case comes before the high court. If he was as influential as his admirers say he was, maybe that perspective will linger.
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