Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death Saturday has ignited a furious debate about the future tilt of the high court, and many conservative voices, including those in the gun rights community, are urging the Senate not to confirm a replacement until a new president takes office.
There is already some talk of a recess appointment, or a full-court press to allow President Barack Obama to create something of a legacy by tilting the Supreme Court to the left. This vacancy underscores why elections matter, and Democrat Hillary Clinton has already issued a statement that noted she did not share Scalia’s views, while she did honor his service to the nation.
Chief Justice John Roberts issued a statement on behalf of the court. “He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues,” Roberts said.
Is the Second Amendment in trouble? Gun rights activists are seriously worried about that, and CNN is already talking about a battle.
Scalia is being called a “giant” on the high court, and he will be remembered as the man who authored the 2008 Heller ruling that affirmed the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), recalled Scalia as “a brilliant legal scholar who not only understood the Constitution, he brought clarity to possibly the most important issue of our time.”
Gottlieb had met Scalia and, like others in the Second Amendment community, is concerned that President Obama will use this opportunity to fill the empty seat with a liberal who would help the court undo both the Heller ruling, and the 2010 McDonald ruling. The McDonald case was brought by SAF, and it incorporated the Second Amendment to the states via the 14th Amendment.
“It is important now that the Senate not act with haste to fill Scalia’s shoes,” Gottlieb said in a news release. “The Court must not be allowed to swing away from supporting Second Amendment rights…We cannot allow the important work of Antonin Scalia to be undone by a court thrown out of balance by the appointment of a successor who would be his philosophical opposite.”
Washington State Republican Party Chairman Susan Hutchison also issued a statement on Scalia’s passing. She called Scalia “an unwavering, principled conservative whose respect for the American people and our democracy provided the highest form of public service.”
That position is already being supported by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. According to the Washington Times, McConnell also doesn’t think a replacement should be confirmed until after a new president is elected. But Democrats do not appear inclined to wait, possibly with an eye on putting an anti-gun liberal on the high court.
Saturday night, President Obama called Scalia “a larger than life presence” on the high court. He said he plans to fulfill his Constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor, and he hopes the Senate acts in a timely manner.
“Justice Scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy, the rule of law,” the president said.
The president left the podium without taking questions.
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