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Scalia’s death leads to political uncertainty

Cartoon by Bella An

Cartoon by Bella An

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The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has plunged the already busy political world into a state of controversy as politicians debate whether or not President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement during an election year. According to the Constitution, this should not even be an argument, as the President retains executive power for all four years of his or her term, which includes the power to nominate justices.

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa opposes an appointment on the grounds “that it’s been standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during a presidential election year.”

His statement can very easily be disproven with a little research. In 1959, President Eisenhower appointed William Brennan as justice a few weeks before election day. The Senate may not have been in session, but the point still stands that the Senator’s facts are incorrect. Judge Anthony Kennedy was also not committed by the Senate until the final year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Even if one were to go by his logic and not count Brennan, the Supreme Court has never had a vacant position for a year either.

The vacancy would leave the Supreme Court with only eight justices, thus allowing for a deadlock on legal rulings. This means that lower level courts are the highest authority in any deadlock decision and that the Supreme Court may not be able to function until the new president is inaugurated, essentially leaving an entire branch of government inactive.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention that the powers of the president are restricted in a an election year or that a replacement must be of a certain ideology. Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plea that the Senate “delay, delay, delay,” courtesy of the Week, their ruling on any potential selection demonstrates that this is merely a partisan issue with the Republican party attempting to prevent the Supreme Court from achieving a progressive majority.

“All we want them to do is to fulfill their constitutional duty and do their job,” minority leader Harry Reid said in an interview from the New York Times. “At this stage, they have decided not to do that.”

Unfortunately, the power struggle between the Democrats and Republicans has brought the country to a standstill, with both sides willing to abandon their constitutional duties if it means gaining an upper-hand. This is evident by GOP leaders refusing to provide Obama with any suggested candidates to fill the vacant position.

“The chairman has turned the impartial reputation of the judiciary committee into an extension of the Trump campaign,” Reid said.

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Scalia’s death leads to political uncertainty