The death of the the most conservative judge on the Supreme Court just made the 2016 Election that much more important
Antonin Scalia had been on the Supreme Court since 1986, and he had been one of the most conservative judges on the bench. Among his worst rulings, Scalia gave us a Bush win in the 2000 election over Al Gore and Citizens United. He had also fought hard against a range of progressive issues, from gay marriage to birth control. Scalia had been a rather troublesome character for progressives to say the least.
But now that Antonin Scalia has passed, an interesting dynamic now shadows the 2016 election: whoever wins the election replaces Scalia and will control the court. President Obama has a zero-percent chance of successfully appointing a replacement to the court with a Republican controlled Senate.
Anyone who thinks the Republicans in the Senate won’t block a nomination, clearly hasn’t been paying attention to American politics for the past seven years. In fact, Republicans in the Senate have already vowed not to confirm an Obama nominee, which means this will play out over the course of 2016, and whoever wins the election will decide the succession.
With Antonin Scalia’s passing, there are now four conservative justices and four liberal justices. If a liberal replaces Scalia, it would tip the balance of the court for the first time in nearly twenty-five years.
The 2016 Democratic Primary is showcasing a dynamic shift in American politics. Being progressive is no longer a taboo. Liberals are arguing (at last!) about who is the more progressive candidate just as Republicans argue every primary about who is the most conservative.
For years, Democrats were scared to argue who is the more liberal, scared to wear those words as a badge of honor. This has changed. The question that will be duked out now in the Democratic Primary is who will appoint the more liberal judge?
It seems the passing of Antonin Scalia will cause a large ripple in the 2016 election. His legacy has helped to create a divisive social politics in America, and his immediate death exposes both a risk and an opportunity. The court can turn liberal or stay conservative. What happens next rests with the voters.