While I’m not going to claim I was the first to bring the issue up, I was definitely one of the first to point out that possibly the biggest issue surrounding the 2016 election is the Supreme Court. Last year I wrote that up to four justices were approaching retirement (or even death) and the next president could potentially be given the ability to alter the power of the Supreme Court for the next 20-30 years.
When I first broached the topic in March of 2015, almost no one was talking about it. Now it’s been brought up a lot more often, even by presidential candidates, as a key issue in the 2016 race.
Well, with Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death, we’re now seeing exactly how important it is that we keep the White House in the hands of the Democratic party.
But before progressives get to celebrating the fact that there now sits an open spot on the Supreme Court and President Obama is still in office, let’s not celebrate too much for a couple of reasons.
While I absolutely detested Scalia, I never want to see someone die. Retire? Absolutely. But let’s be careful that we’re celebrating the possibility of giving the Supreme Court a liberal majority and not the fact that someone died.
Also, the reality is, Republicans control the Senate. While they might allow President Obama to appoint another justice – it’s unlikely. Just check out the tweet Senator Ted Cruz sent out moments after learning of Scalia’s death:
Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 13, 2016
They’re going to do whatever they can over the next eight months to hold off replacing Scalia until after the general election. Will they be successful? Who knows. But if there’s one thing Republicans have proven during Obama’s administration it’s that, if they think they can sabotage or obstruct him in any way possible – they will. Especially when it comes to possibly giving the Supreme Court five liberal justices.
Trust me when I say that this is not going to be simple or pretty. We’re in for a fight, that’s for damn certain.
But this is a great example as to why all elections matter. If liberals had turned out in solid numbers during the 2014 midterms, Democrats might have kept a majority control in the Senate and President Obama would have had a much easier task appointing Scalia’s replacement. But that didn’t happen.
What Scalia’s death has done is made 2016 even more important. Because if Republicans manage to stall appointing his replacement until after the election, whichever party wins the White House will be the party that selects his replacement. And while some may balk at “Wall Street shill” Hillary Clinton or “grumpy democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders, the truth is, both individuals believe that:
- Citizens United must be overturned.
- Climate change is real.
- Every women has the right to choose what to do with her own body.
- Same-sex marriage should be legal.
- Health care needs to be expanded.
- Gay rights are human rights.
- Women deserve equal pay.
The list goes on and on. As we just saw this week with the Supreme Court’s five conservative justices (including the late Scalia) hindering President Obama’s efforts to regulate carbon emissions, the court can be incredibly powerful.
I don’t care if you can’t stomach the thought of voting for either Clinton or Sanders, hold your nose, close your eyes and vote straight-ticket Democrat. You don’t even have to personally select their name. Just vote blue.
Scalia’s death, while unfortunate, has now given us a real example of what is at stake this November. As I’ve said for months, there’s far too much on the line this election to let Republicans win back the White House. Don’t forget, while Scalia is one of the four justices I mentioned, there are three others who I expect to no longer be on the bench within the next few years.
So, I don’t care if you’re in camp #ImWithHer or #FeelTheBern – once a nominee is picked we all need to become #VoteBlueNoMatterWho.