Well before Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s family has even given him a proper burial, Mitch McConnell has already pledged that the Senate majority will block any Obama nomination, so liberals are pessimistic about the chances for a progressive judge being appointed before the next election.
Historian Angus Johnston looked at past examples to confirm that such a delay would be beyond unprecedented:
Even if Republicans are willing to leave one of our branches of government understaffed for almost an entire year, the fact remains that this is the first time since the Nixon administration that liberals have had a chance to outnumber conservatives on the Supreme Court.
Here are five of the most terrible decisions that went through the Court in the last decade with a 5-4 split vote, meaning they could now be overturned:
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010— Possibly one of the craziest rulings to ever be passed down, this infamous ruling declared that “corporations are people,” so therefore they can donate as much as they want to political campaigns. The argument put forward stated that because money equals speech, these contributions are protected under the First Amendment.
Scalia defended his decision by saying “The (First) Amendment is written in terms of ‘speech,’ not speakers… We should celebrate rather than condemn the addition of this speech to the public debate.”
Even President Obama publicly condemned the decision, calling it “a major victory…for powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 2014 – Because of the above Citizens United ruling, the Court attacked an actual, flesh-and-blood woman’s reproductive rights to protect a corporation’s religious rights.
Part of the Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare) mandated that family-owned corporations must provide contraceptives coverage to their employees. But because Citizens United stated that “corporations are people,” the Court declared that Hobby Lobby’s religious views were being attacked, since the corporation is “run with Christian values in mind.”
“The court’s expansive notion of corporate personhood invites for-profit entities to seek religious-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faiths,” wrote dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Shelby County v. Holder, 2013— This decision could have given the federal government further power to keep states in check if they had a history of voting discrimination. There was nearly unanimous support in Congress for prior voting rights amendments, which instead of helping its case actually made Scalia say, “There must be something wrong there,” and so he voted against it.
Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 2011 – While not one of the more famous cases, it’s definitely the most bewildering. A slap in the face of 1.5 million Wal-Mart employees, this decision said that a female Wal-Mart employee “could not file a class action suit alleging gender discrimination” for herself and the rest of her colleagues.
Scalia wrote that “We disapprove that novel project.”
Amnesty v. Clapper, 2013— This could have finally put a stop to the NSA’s unlimited power to collect our phone calls and emails without a warrant. Instead they upheld it, and we continue to be monitored to this day.
Republicans are terrified now that Obama has the power to undo all this damage, and they are scrambling to stop him.
“It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat,” Harry Reid said today. “Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”