Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, died in his sleep after a nice day’s hunting. I’m glad that his last day on earth was pleasant, and he didn’t suffer, and my condolences go out to the family and friends who mourn his passing. My congratulations go out to the people he will be unable to fuck over in this and future Supreme Court terms.
Obviously, this changes the political and legal landscape considerably. We already have Republicans demanding Obama not appoint anyone to the bench, and vowing to block anyone he does, so replacing Scalia should be a lively process. I hate to tell them, but blocking a sitting President from appointing a Supreme Court justice in his last year in office won’t actually turn out well for them. And there’s a little something they should recall:
In the meantime, there will be only eight justices handling the court’s work. For an idea of what that will look like, see the excellent analyses here and here. Upshot: in some cases, his passing is a blessing. In others, it probably doesn’t change much. But on the balance, fewer people will be fucked over than would have done if he’d lived, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Justice Scalia for his exquisite timing. It is one of the few things he has done as a Supreme Court justice that I can approve of.
When an important person dies, it’s customary to look back on their life’s work and acknowledge their accomplishments. I would like to do so now. Justice Scalia certainly had a lasting impact on this country. He also had some very… provocative… ideas about the law and minorities. Some of his greatest hits include:
Women aren’t constitutionally protected from discrimination, because when the 14th Amendment says “people,” women weren’t actually considered people.
Black people should go to “less-advanced,” “slower-track” colleges, because black scientists “come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.”
(But he totally wasn’t racist, y’all. One of his best friends was black.)
Gays shouldn’t be allowed to be all gay because ew, and also, all these other sex crimes, and on and on and on…
He urged Arizona to secede over immigration, and “also used 19th-century restrictions on freed slaves as backup for his decision, saying that, back in the day, ‘State laws not only provided for the removal of unwanted immigrants but also imposed penalties on unlawfully present aliens and those who aided their immigration.’”
He said the constitution totes allows the government to favor religion over non-religion.
We could spend all day delving the bottomless cesspit that is his legacy, but I’ll stop there. Needless to say, he will be missed – by Christianists, bigots, corporate sleazebags, and people who relied on him to keep women and minorities from getting so damned uppity.
Many of the rest of us are grateful to him for giving Obama a chance to appoint another Supreme Court justice.
Scalia’s death should serve as a wake-up call to those who think elections don’t matter. For 30 years, this man was able to eviscerate the rights of women, minorities, and immigrants, while allowing corporate interests to turn our republic into an oligarchy. Elections do matter, folks. Having a Democrat in the White House when vacancies appear on the Supreme Court shapes our country for at least a generation to come. Having Democrats and folks belonging to other progressive parties sitting in the Senate means the difference between swift, smooth confirmations and protracted battles that may cost us the most progressive Supreme Court candidates. When this election season rolls around, keep in mind that many of the most liberal justices on the Court are nearing retirement at the very least, and could end up like Scalia at any moment.
We’ve had enough Scalias on the Court. We still have four quite conservative justices. We don’t need another. If you want a progressive Supreme Court, remember it begins with the President and senators you vote into office.