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Scalia Dies, Fight Looms

Scalia Dies, Fight Looms

The President said he would nominate Scalia's replacement 'in due time.' The appointment would have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Republicans

Scalia Dies, Fight Looms


U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich is urging that President Obama appoint a replacement on the U.S. Supreme Court for Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday.

“I am disappointed that some are already shamefully suggesting a seat on our highest court should be vacant for well over a year,” the New Mexico Democrat said in a statement released by his office. “Senate Republicans must meet their constitutional responsibility to confirm a qualified nominee. There is no reason beyond partisan politics to deprive the American people of a fully staffed Supreme Court.”

The President said he would nominate Scalia’s replacement “in due time.” The appointment would have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

Scalia, the most conservative justice on the nine-member court, was a devote “originalist,” meaning he believed the words of the Constitution should not be interpreted in light of present-day changes in society and technology.

For example, according to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, in 2008, the Court considered a challenge to the gun laws in the District of Columbia. Scalia wrote the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, a decision which expanded gun rights. The court upheld an individual’s right to own a firearm. Examining the meaning of Second Amendment, Scalia traced the word “militia,” found in the Second Amendment, as it would have been understood at the time of its ratification, and stated that it then meant “the body of all citizens.”

His death and a subsequent appointment by Obama would swing the high court from a conservative-dominated panel to a more centrist political bent.

Within hours of the death of the 79-year-old justice, Republicans called for Obama to allow the next president to appoint his successor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said, “With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible.”

“It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities,” the Nevada Democrat said.

Hillary Clinton essentially told the Republicans to suck it up. “Barack Obama is President of the United States until January 20, 2017. That is a fact, my friends, whether the Republicans like it or not. Elections have consequences. The President has a responsibility to nominate a new justice and the Senate has a responsibility to vote,” Clinton said. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, took no position on the timing of a replacement.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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