Three long days have passed since U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away at the luxurious Cibolo Creek Ranch in Texas. After he failed to attend a breakfast, a staff member found his body in the resort’s expansive El Presidente suite. In the immediate aftermath, President Obama vowed to name Scalia’s replacement “in due time” while the talk show circuit filled itself with conservative lawmakers who argued otherwise. Likewise, the GOP presidential candidates kicked off their brawl-filled debate by arguing (along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) that Scalia’s seat should stay open for a full year. The Senate could filibuster whoever Obama nominates, for the stakes are high with a lifetime appointee.
Scalia’s death falls right in the middle of a Supreme Court term. Several important cases — including what could be pivotal rulings on affirmative action, capital sentencing, and abortion rights (involving Texas abortion clinics) — remain on the docket. His absence could sway these decisions and, in come cases, allow appellate rulings to stand. This is the most immediate concern. Looking towards the future, anyone who replaces Scalia will help shape society for decades.
So, the GOP’s public maneuvering is simultaneously gutsy and ridiculous. They’re not trying to hide their bias, but the fact remains that — no matter what Mitch McConnell or Ted Cruz says — a year with a vacant seat would be unprecedented. Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s viral Facebook post rips the Senate Republicans and their “talk of loving the constitution.” These sides will fight regardless of what we say here about the staunch conservative justice. Likewise, the media scrutiny of Scalia’s death will remain as icky as one would expect. On Sunday, photo agencies swooped onto the ranch to capture exterior shots and a picture of the bed where Scalia passed.