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Justice Antonin Scalia 1

Voters Get Court Side View of SCOTUS Clash


Justice Scalia may be laid to rest, but the questions about his Court are far from it. “Nino,” as he was affectionately called at a small, intimate memorial this week, left a hole in the Court that no one can fill — including, Senate leaders have vowed, President Obama. Republicans have been clear from day one that they’d do exactly what Senate Democrats suggested when they were in power: leave the vacancy open for the next president to fill.

Now, years after pushing back on President Bush’s nominees, selective amnesia seems to be setting in. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Vice President Joe Biden, and President Obama are desperately trying to explain away statements like then-Senator Biden’s: “It is my view that if the president… presses an election year nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until ever — until after the political campaign season is over.”

In a grand (and frantic) gesture, President Obama invited Senate Republicans to the Oval Office to see how serious Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was. Very, it turns out. The meeting was a quick one. “The president asked [the] Republican senators if they had names they wanted him to consider in the nomination process, but neither offered any,” Senator Reid said. “This vacancy will not be filled this year,” McConnell told reporters afterwards. “Whether everybody in the meeting today wanted to admit it, we all know that considering a nomination in the middle of a heated presidential campaign is bad for the nominee, bad for the court, bad for the process, and ultimately bad for the nation,” Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) explained later. “It’s time for the people to voice their opinion about the role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system of government.”

For now, Scalia’s legacy is a question on everyone’s minds — including voters’. In a new national poll commissioned by FRC from WPA Opinion Research, 64 percent of likely voters (71 percent who identify as Republicans and 63 percent as Democrats) agree that the Supreme Court will be “an important factor in determining who you vote for in November’s elections.” Among weekly churchgoers, the national number is even higher: 71 percent. But just because people don’t go to church doesn’t mean Justice Scalia’s seat isn’t weighing heavily on their minds. Even 59 percent of those who never worship consider the Supreme Court important to their vote.

Obviously, reality is starting to sink in for voters of both parties that the next president will probably appoint two or even three justices to the U.S. Supreme Court — men and women who will impact our nation for decades to come. For people in the pews, the level of concern is easy to understand. They’ve watched the justices undermine their values — and more importantly, the social consensus — by imposing their radical views on marriage and abortion on all 50 states.

With record turnout in the primary states, it’s clear the Court is a great motivating factor for conservatives, who are anxious to have a voice in whether the next justice is a wannabe legislator — or an arbiter, as the Constitution intends. With religious liberty, state abortion laws, gun control, and immigration hanging in the balance, the American people should be allowed to decide who picks the next Supreme Court justice.


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