Scalia’s Death Came As Conservatives Were About To Seize Historic Legal Gains
“The entire current legal strategy of the conservative legal movement has been stymied by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. His unexpected passing robs conservatives of the 5-4 advantage they had on the Supreme Court at the very moment they were making arguably their most aggressive play yet to cement some their most cherished and longest sought legal gains, in areas like abortion, voting rights, and affirmative action.
While much of the immediate focus after Scalia’s death over the weekend was on the long game of who replaces him, and when, the impact is far more immediate and potentially historic. Even if a Republican president ultimately names Scalia’s successor, the conservative legal movement will have suffered a dramatic setback by virtue of how many important cases it had queued up for this year that will be thrown into turmoil by a court with only eight justices and the potential for 4-4 tie votes.”
Here are how some of the court’s most politically charged cases that stand to be affected by Scalia’s death:
Unions – (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association ) A case attacking unions is perhaps the most clear-cut example of how the conservative movement has attempted to exploit the court’s make-up, and how that effort could now backfire with Scalia’s death.
One Person, One Vote (Evenwel v. Abbott) What the court was planning to do in a major voting rights case was murkier, but the absence of Scalia’s vote nonetheless works in the favor of those who are fighting the conservative challenge to how voting districts are drawn.
Affirmative Action (Fisher v. University of Texas-Austin) Blum has another case at the Supreme Court awaiting a decision. Fisher asked the court to knock down the University of Texas’ affirmative action program, after Blum failed to land a lethal blow on affirmative action policies in previous cases.
Climate change (West Virginia v. EPA) The Supreme Court voted to temporarily block President Obama’s climate plan last week in a 5-4 order that would not have stood had it been considered a few days later. Nevertheless, Scalia’s death spells trouble for the states and coal industry forces pushing the case. This summer it will be heard by a left-leaning panel of the D.C. Circuit that is likely to rule in Obama’s favor. The challengers could then appeal to the full appeals court, but they no longer have the five Supreme Court votes they were counting on if and when the case eventually made its way there.
Immigration (United States v. Texas) An appeals court already ruled against President Obama’s executive actions to protect certain undocumented immigrants from deportation, meaning a 4-4 Supreme Court decision would still be bad for the U.S. government. But without Scalia’s vote going forward, there are some silver linings for the Obama administration.
Abortion (Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole) A case challenging abortion restrictions in Texas is another instance where the lower court’s decision is working in conservatives’ favor in the event of a Supreme Court tie. However, that decision would only apply to Texas and would not set precedent for the states whose abortion restrictions are being challenged in other circuits.”
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