- - Thursday, February 18, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

With the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, we have not only lost a great champion of the Constitution, but a great man. It is indicative of the highly polarized times we live in to see the debate on replacing him. What if we had had a Republican “lame duck” president, a Democratic Congress, and a vacancy of a liberal justice to fill? For this very reason, justices have been loathe to retire during an election year.

The Constitution doesn’t prohibit lame-duck appointments, but the president may nominate someone who would serve only six months of President Obama’s term, and 30 years thereafter. It is very rare for a president not running for reelection to appoint a justice in his final year. That was the case in 1988. Anthony Kennedy was a second choice, after Robert Bork’s nomination had been rejected on purely partisan grounds. So President Reagan went with the ‘more acceptable’ Kennedy. How did that turn out? We got a justice who cast the deciding vote for mandating gay “marriage.” everywhere.

Democratic presidential contenders Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, in their next debates, will no doubt praise Mr. Obama’s previous selections and attack Republicans for wanting to stonewall the process. Meanwhile Republicans will warn us of an extremist selection from a president who has repeatedly circumvented Congress with executive orders. Mr. Obama will get more political impact by nominating someone who can at least be perceived as a moderate, but who in reality is extremely liberal. The best course of action for Republicans is to conduct hearings on, expose and reject an extremist choice.

My only hope is that a Republican presidential contender wins in November, a liberal justice finally retires and we get another Justice Scalia on the Court.

JAMES SCARBOROUGH

Arlington


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