The face off in Greenville, South Carolina Saturday night came only hours after the news of the death of Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, long standing judge and appointee of Ronald Reagan in 1986.
After a moment of silence, the CBS moderator Major Garrett asked the candidates for their comments on the next step in selecting a nominee for the Supreme Court. Donald Trump immediately said, “delay” in a most emphatic tone.
Candidate Dr. Ben Carson addressed the issue of the Constitution which does not address the time limit for nomination and appointment. While Sen. Rubio called the loss tremendous and told Fox News, “The president can nominate whoever he wants, but the Senate is not going to act, and that’s pretty clear.” So, we can keep debating it but we’re not moving forward on it, period.”
Sen. Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement that the nomination should be held until the new president takes office. The fight began with a response from Harry Reid.
“The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away,” said Senate minority leader Reid (D-NV). “With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible. It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”
Reid added: “Don’t play politics with filling vacancies on the Supreme Court bench.”
“There will be many opinions on this, and a lot of good candidates,” said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to Mr. Obama. “But I would favor sitting appellate judges like Srinivasan or Jane Kelly from the Eighth Circuit, who have cleared the Senate unanimously.”
These two judges have been considered “Supreme Court in waiting”. Obama named Sri Srinivasan, an Indian-American jurist to the United States Court of Appeals and who was confirmed by a vote of 97 to 0 by the Senate in May 2013. Jane Kelly, a former federal public defender in Iowa was in Mr. Obama’s class at Harvard Law School. Obama named her to the Court of Appeals in 2013. Both Srinivasan and Kelly were confirmed unanimously.
As the cornerstone of the five sitting Supreme Court Justices for conservative view, Scalia was the most ardent conservative. The issues at stake are gay marriage, abortion and Capital punishment, but Scalia in recent years became a passionate defender of the 4th Amendment. “Justice Scalia has been on the pro-privacy side of a lot of divided Fourth Amendment cases, especially recently … [and] often very strongly,” said Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. Scalia defends privacy on issues of cell phones.
Scalia advanced thinking to question if police need a warrant to search a cellphone in a privacy issue. His friend, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the leader of the Court’s liberal wing, who typically votes with him on Fourth Amendment cases, stated in a WSJ interview, “Scalia is often criticized by people who would not be labeled conservative. Liberals don’t count his Fourth Amendment cases or the confrontation clause cases. He is one of the most pro-Fourth Amendment judges on the court.”
The primary debates and the election campaigns will be weighted with this extremely critical matter. It is a question of the future for Americans and their rights at stake. Few people follow the Supreme Court and very few consider the gravity of its influence until an extreme situation such as this one enters the political debate. A Facebook poll last month showed ten percent of people surveyed listed Judge Judy a member of the Supreme Court.