Last Saturday, the nation was shocked by the sudden death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, 79, of natural causes. Scalia was well-known for his bulldog-ish attitude and his conservative, strict constructionist judicial philosophy — although, he rejected this term, prefering “textualist” or “originalist”. Nonetheless, Scalia opposed to broad interpretations of the Constitution’s text, leaving him famously opposed to gay marriage, women’s rights, the Voting Rights Act, and affirmative action.
Scalia’s death will have immediate impact on several high-profile cases scheduled to be decided this Supreme Court session, and legal scholars at SCOTUSblog say the predicted tie votes will likely lead to reargument in the next session after a new Supreme Court Justice is appointed to fill the vacancy left with Scalia’s passing.
Meanwhile, the fight over whom President Obama will nominate to the nation’s highest court — or, even whether the Senate will obstruct these proceedings until after a new president has been inaugurated — has already begun. Just hours after Scalia’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed that Senate Republicans would refuse to confirm any person nominated by President Obama to the Supreme Court.