Christian Segers, Opinion Editor
Over the course of the past year, there have been numerous reports suggesting that the 45th president of the United States will have the opportunity to elect the next Supreme Court justice, but in the wake of Judge Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death, 44th president Barack Obama appears poised to nominate a new ninth judge.
Scalia died at age 79, on Feb. 13, 2016, at Cibolo Creek Ranch in Marfa, Texas. Although the origin of death is reported as peaceful by both local law enforcement and federal agencies, AP News Break reported that an array of health concerns plagued the ailing justice.
AP News Break reported, “Antonin Scalia suffered from coronary artery disease, obesity and diabetes, among other ailments that probably contributed to the justice's sudden death, according to a letter from the Supreme Court's doctor.”
Although President Obama and congressional figureheads have been mostly respectful to the late justice and his family in their time of mourning, it is President Obama’s call as to whether or not he will nominate a new member to the Supreme Court before his term expires in Jan. of 2017. According to Marketwatch.com, Obama is currently pursuing nominee options.
Marketwatch.com stated, “President Barack Obama on Tuesday [Feb. 16] said [that] he seeks a Supreme Court candidate who 'indisputably is qualified' for the job, while administration officials indicated he wants a nominee who can attract some Republican support and complicate GOP plans to push off any confirmation process until after the election.”
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to block any attempt Obama may have to replace Scalia. Upon the death of the aforementioned justice, there were concerns raised by party leaders and GOP presidential candidates alike, as to whether or not the senate majority leader would uphold the party on what is essentially the nations biggest stage and refuse to work with the Obama administration on a replacement for Scalia.
The New York Times reported, “…there would be no confirmation hearings, no vote, not even a courtesy meeting with President Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, all but slamming shut any prospects for an election-year Supreme Court confirmation.”
McConnell’s move furthers the gaping divide that has drastically halted dealings between the Republican and Democrat parties. Although Obama still has options to consider, it will be increasingly difficult to push his appointment through the Senate.
In life, Judge Scalia affected the U.S. on a national scale. Now in death, Scalia continues that trend, as the next appointment to the Supreme Court will have massive implications for how the country conducts itself in the future.