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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Scalia? Wow

Update: I started this post after first hearing about his death last night and continued it in the morning after some coverage. One annoying bit there is him being referenced as "pro-defendant' because of certain rulings. True enough and this showed he wasn't just a hack (he was enough times to well earn much of his critics' scorn), but it's silly to use such a label without a big "but" given as a whole he was far from pro-defendant in a range of cases.  This is a pretty good look at his overall record, including how he Trump-like helped divide the country including with intemperate language.  Also, Irin Carmon discussed the famous RBG friendship.

Coming in from the f-ing cold (it's, without wind chill, in the single digits), I came home to news that Justice Scalia has died. Don't recall that last time news was as surprising -- Bin Laden being killed? Maybe.  That was sort of expected at some point.  Scalia dying during the Obama Administration? No. That is truly surprising.  Shocking actually. When was the last time a justice left simply by surprise?  Fortas?  That was a slow burn.  This suddenly? Guess Vinson.  And, bring in Warren suggests the importance this might bring.  A lot of gears churning.

I respect Scalia, though think him wrong on various things, including because he gave as good as he got. He cheapened his position at times being a clown, and using skewered reasoning no less wrong for being cocksure and bombastic, but he was one of the greats as a general matter. RIP and sorry for his family and friends including RBG who not too long ago had to deal with the death of her husband.  A person I read regularly who clerked while he was on the bench has a personal remembrance.
"Tea Party conservatives such as Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, appeared impressed as well. Cruz, who clerked with Srinivasan at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, quipped, "I am hopeful that our friendship will not be seen as a strike against you by some."
The first thought (other than "oh shit!) of leading Republicans is that there should be an eight person bench until at least mid-2016 term (that would be Spring 2017).  In Obama's statement honoring his passing, he in passing noted that eventually a nomination -- cited as his duty (ditto the Senate confirming as appropriate) -- will be forthcoming.  It is only February, which makes this quite tricky.  Now Judge Srinivasan was then seen as the leading possibility for the next Supreme Court slot, if one arose during Obama's presidency.  Be more tricky to find something controversial about him than Sotomayor and Kagan, but hey, I have faith in the Republicans.  Leaning toward a confirmation this year, but it's not firm by any means. Interesting times.*

A few questions posed -- there are lots out there as the blogs and others think through the news.  Few quick thoughts.  Hey, I don't want to spit on his grave and honestly respect him on some levels, but understand why some might want to do so. Second, some cite him as somehow pro-defendant because of his sentencing opinions and some others. Okay.  Depends on what sort of defendant.  Next, be some sort of holding action on various issues with the Court split 4-4 (e.g., the Fisher affirmative action ruling really seems a bad one to decide now with a seven person Court).

And, again, wow. Sometimes, one is truly surprised.


 * There is some argument out there that the judge referenced is too young (will be 49), but other than the former clerks connection with Cruz (oh so rich), the guy was confirmed 97-0. The reason was that he was seen as just plain clearly qualified and would be a prime choice on that ground. By coincidence, Judge Merrick Garland -- also on short lists in the past and in his mid-60s -- swore him in.  His age would make him and perhaps his record (he's cited as a moderate, but who knows how Republicans of today view that, especially since he would replace Scalia) though he still easily can serve fifteen to twenty years.

I think Judge Srinivasan would be a logical choice, particularly because he was already vetted but two years ago and apparently (97-0!) found satisfactory.  Of course, this is the Supreme Court, but why not? We shall see. Some will try "got to replace him with someone ideologically similar" line -- you know, like Thurgood Marshall/Clarence Thomas. Does Cruz's friend count? Here are some others.  Good list.  Top choice still favored.

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