0

Crosstalk: Death of Scalia spotlights polarization

RaeLynn Ricarte

Saturday’s unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has shown the clear battle lines in a cultural war that began decades ago.

The fight over Scalia’s replacement will highlight the ideological polarization in America that is reaching an all-time high.

Do we keep the principles of free enterprise that this nation was founded upon or allow “progressives” to take us farther down the path of socialism?

Scalia’s death has left the high court evenly split, 4-4, between liberals and conservatives, so it is not alarmist to say that the future of this country literally hinges on the next few appointments.

People need to make their choice for president this year very, very carefully because there is the probability of at least three more justices being replaced in the next few years due to age.

If we get more liberals on the bench who put policy preferences above the rule of law, then the framework of this country will be gutted.

With that in mind, voters can expect to see President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party do everything in their power to get a liberal justice on the bench before the November election.

Republicans will counter by following the lead of Democrats, who obstructed President George W. Bush from appointing dozens of judges to federal courts — and passed a resolution in 1960 against a president making election year appointments.

What makes the U.S. Constitution worth fighting for? It was written as a revolutionary theory of governance based on two central truisms laid out in the Declaration of Independence.

The first was that no person had the right to rule over another without his or her consent.

The second was that people were “endowed by their Creator” with the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that was not based on the whims of those in power.

The founders intended for judges to interpret the constitution by reading its plain language and determining its original intent, then applying the historical context of the drafters in cases where the meaning was not readily apparent.

The constitution only becomes “outdated” if you seek to grow government.

Liberals apply the term “living document” to the constitution as an excuse to eviscerate its principles. Their interpretations of law always increase federal power, never reduce or limit its reach.

In 2009, Scalia, a conservative, rightfully said: “A Bill of Rights that means what the majority wants it to mean is worthless.”

Socialism sounds wonderful to the naive — unversal equality is achieved by having people with more money pay to improve the lifestyle of those with less, and everyone lives happily ever after.

In the real world, this model of a “command economy” has failed again and again. Division and strife are generated by the creation of a “victim” class while success is penalized and failure rewarded.

What is the incentive for serfs of the state to work hard if the fruits of their labors are given to people who don’t want to toil as much?

Eventually, freedoms are lost because socialism can’t survive if people are allowed to make other choices, or are free to openly criticize its many failures.

by Mark Gibson

With the recent death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the final year of the current presidency, we will no doubt spend the next 10 months listening to the Democrats rail about the Republicans delaying the appointment of a new justice in much the same manner the Republicans railed about the Democrats delaying the appointment of a new justice during the previous administration.

It seems obvious that President Obama has the constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor for Scalia, and has stated his intention of doing so.

It also seems obvious that the Republican Party will make every effort to delay that appointment into the coming year, and may well be successful.

It doesn’t surprise me: Constitutional responsibility is one thing, political ideology and power is another.

But more to the point, the Senate, judging by past practices, has the right to delay the decision.

Given the ideological split in America, it seems likely the coming election will be less about electing a President than appointing a replacement for Scalia.

The ideological fear mongering has already begun.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a former Supreme Court clerk, is quoted by CNN as warning America that “we are one justice away from a Supreme Court that would undermine the religious liberty of millions of Americans.“ He doesn’t specify whether the religious liberties being undermined will be those of the Christian or Muslim faith.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is quoted as saying “I do not believe the President should appoint someone,” warning that Obama would “ram down our throat a liberal justice.”

Republican front-runner Donald Trump is quoted as saying he was sure that Obama would not listen to Republicans and would go ahead and name a nominee, adding “I think it’s up to Mitch McConnell, and everybody else to stop it. It’s called delay, delay, delay.”

Probably the most accurate Republican response, if you think about it.

Clinton suggests that Obama has the responsibility to nominate a successor and the Senate to vote on that nomination, and added that “elections have consequences,” an acknowledgment, perhaps, of the probability of delay into the coming year.

Clinton’s Democratic rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, also issued a statement but did not weigh in on the issue of the timing of a nomination.

“While I differed with Justice Scalia’s views and jurisprudence, he was a brilliant, colorful and outspoken member of the Supreme Court,” he said. Very statesmanlike, but he skips over the point of impact; perhaps he will weigh in with a more targeted response another day.

Perhaps the best way to address the issue would be to have each candidate for president immediately name a successor to Scalia: We could then vote on our preferred appointee, and their conservative or liberal beliefs, rather than a president.

That would, on a philosophical level, call into question the political impartiality of the Supreme Court and the rule of law as a constitutional check on the powers of our national government.

But it’s what we appear to be doing now, for better or for worse, and at least it would be an honest vote.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment

CLOSE X

Information from the Chronicle and our advertisers (Want to add your business to this to this feed?)