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Live updates: Reactions to Justice Scalia’s death

February 13, 2016

(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the intellectual cornerstone of the court’s modern conservative wing, died Saturday near San Antonio. He was 79.

  • Lydia DePillis
  • ·

From Wonkblog: 

Conservative lawmakers are unlikely to allow President Obama to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday.

During the Republican debate Saturday evening, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said, “We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court justices in an election year.”

That’s not quite true: Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed in 1988, an election year. But the situation rarely comes up. A seat has opened on the Supreme Court during an election year only once every few decades.

There does not appear to be an established procedure for handling vacancies that arise just months before an election. As a result, partisans will be free to offer interpretations of the court’s history to buttress their positions on Obama’s eventual nominee.

[…]

  • Lydia DePillis
  • ·

Hillary Clinton had some more things to say in Denver about the push to prevent President Obama from nominating a new Supreme Court justice:

If any of us needed a reminder of just how important it is to take back the United States Senate and hold onto the White House, just look at the Supreme Court. I know that our thoughts and prayers are with the Scalia family tonight, and I am also thinking and praying for the future of our country. It is outrageous that the Republicans in the Senate on the campaign trail have already pledged to block any replacement that President Obama nominates.

Now I am sure we will all have a lot more to say about this in the coming days. So let me make one point. Barack Obama is president of the United States until Jan. 20, 2017. That is a fact, my friends, whether the Republicans like it or not. Elections have consequences. The president has a responsibility to nominate a new justice, and the Senate has a responsibility to vote. And all of us Democrats, we have e responsibility to make sure a Republican doesn’t win in November and rip away all of the progress we have made together.

Let me say one last thing because I have been thinking about this for the last few hours, now, you will hear, in fact some might say, a confirmation process would take too long for this president to complete during his remaining day in office. Well the longest successful confirmation process in the last four decades was Clarence Thomas and that took roughly 100 days. There are 340 days until the next president takes office so that is plenty of time. Well then some might say, well yes, this is an election year. Okay. But the confirmation for Justice [Anthony] Kennedy took place in 1988, that was an election year, and he was confirmed 97-0.

So as presidential candidate, a former law professor, a recovering lawyer, and frankly a citizen, to hear comments like those of [Senate Majority] Leader Mitch McConnell’s this evening is very disappointing. It is totally out of step with our history and our constitutional principles.

Now just a few minutes ago, President Obama said he would nominate someone to the bench and that is exactly what he should be doing, and Leader McConnell should follow the constitutional process.

  • Monica Akhtar
  • ·
  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·

A man guards the entrance to Cibolo Creek Ranch on Saturday. (Edward A. Ornelas/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Over on PowerPost, Elise Viebeck has a piece up about the remote West Texas ranch where Scalia died.

Cibolo Creek Ranch, a luxury compound built around three 19th-century forts, has played host to movie stars and European royalty lured by the spare beauty of the desert.

Now, it will be known as the place where Scalia, a firebrand conservative whose vacancy on the Supreme Court launched an immediate political fight, spent his final hours.

The 30,000-acre resort, located less than an hour from the Mexican border crossing at Ojinaga, is tucked into the Chinati Mountains, 33 miles south of Marfa, Tex.

For the well-heeled, getting to the ranch is convenient by private jet: four miles from the main office, it offers a private airport.

The combination of convenience and privacy has attracted celebrities, reportedly including Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Bruce Willis and Tommy Lee Jones, to Cibolo over the years.

Read more about the ranch — including its war-hero owner — here.

  • Lydia DePillis
  • ·

Wonkblog asks the question: 

With Justice Antonin Scalia’s death this weekend, and its nearly instantaneous politicization, it’s worth asking why we don’t subject our high court justices to limited terms or mandatory retirement ages — like nearly every other country in the world.

For starters, are term limits even a good idea? A lot of sharp thinkers on both sides of the political aisle think so. Norm Ornstein of the  American Enterprise Institute likes the idea of an 18-year term limit, saying it would “would to some degree lower the temperature on confirmation battles by making the stakes a bit lower. And it would mean a Court that more accurately reflects the changes and judgments of the society.”

[…]

  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·
  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·

proc

  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·

Over on Wonkblog, Zach Goldfarb writes:

Nobody but President Obama and perhaps his closest advisers know who he will nominate to replace Justice Antonin Scalia after his unexpected death Saturday. And it seems likely that Republicans will do all they can to prevent a nomination process before 2017. But Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst and New Yorker writer, speculated on Twitter it would be Sri Srinivasan, a former senior Justice Department official who Obama fought to confirm for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia.

Toobin later repeated that speculation on CNN.

The prediction was hardly a surprise: In 2013, Toobin wrote about Srinivasan in the New Yorker. The headline? “The Supreme Court nominee in the waiting.”

  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·

A statement from Vice President Biden:

Jill and I send our deepest condolences to Maureen and the entire Scalia family on the loss of their beloved husband, father, and grandfather.

Justice Scalia and I had fundamental disagreements about how the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, but we shared a belief that sharp debates, tough questions, and deep respect for the adversarial process was an essential part of our judicial system and our democracy. That’s how our rule of law — forged with the deep principles and convictions of justices, and laid out in majority decisions and minority dissents — becomes the model for the world.

For the country, Justice Scalia will be remembered as one of our most influential justices, who inspired and challenged generations of students, clerks, lawyers, and judges. And for so many, he will be remembered as a mentor, dear friend, and a man devoted to his faith and his family, who will miss him most of all, and who we will keep in our prayers.

  • Niraj Chokshi
  • ·

Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr., issued a pair of statements on Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on Saturday night.

Lynch’s statement:

“Justice Antonin Scalia was, and will always be remembered as, one of the most influential and eloquent Justices ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. His indomitable conviction and his fierce intelligence left a lasting imprint – not just on the way the Supreme Court resolves cases, but on the legal landscape that he helped to transform. A lion of American law has left the stage, and it is up to all of us – every American – to keep our national constitutional dialogue as lively and as learned as he left it.”

Solicitor General Verrilli:

“I am saddened by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. He was a great jurist and a great man who served the Court and the country with honor and distinction. We will miss him very much. On behalf of my colleagues in the Office of the Solicitor General, I extend our deepest condolences to Mrs. Scalia and to the rest of his family.”

  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·

Zach Goldfarb explores that question over on Wonkblog, noting that presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton was asked recently whether she would consider nominating Obama for the Supreme Court.

“I would certainly take that under advisement,” she said. “I mean, he is brilliant, and he can set forth an argument.”

But Obama himself has weighed in on the possibility before, making clear he’s not that interested in the job.

Read the full post here.

  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·

President Obama called Justice Antonin Scalia “a larger-than-life presence on the bench. A brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, incisive wit and colorful opinions. He influenced a generation of judges, lawyers and students and profoundly shaped the legal landscape.

“He will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy: The rule of law. Tonight we honor his extraordinary service to our nation and remember one of the towering legal figures of our time.”

  • Niraj Chokshi
  • ·

In a brief appearance on Saturday night, President Obama made clear his intention to appoint a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia — a clear dismissal of calls from conservatives to wait for the next president to take office.

“Today is a time to remember Justice Scalia’s legacy,” Obama said. “I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor.”

  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·
  • Niraj Chokshi
  • ·

Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz added to his earlier statement on Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, joining the chorus of conservatives calling on President Obama and the Senate to allow the next president to choose Scalia’s successor.

  • Abby Phillip
  • ·

FLORENCE, S.C. — At a campaign event on the campus of Francis Marion University, former president Bill Clinton told The Washington Post that Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was “a great surprise. He’s so full of life. So vigorous. I thought he’d live to be 100, and my prayers are with his family.”

The former president noted that “even though we disagreed on nearly everything, I always kind of liked Justice Scalia because he never pretended to be anything he wasn’t. He was very straightforward about what he believed, and I think that’s the reason he was able to have a good friendship on the court with Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsberg, whom I appointed.

“They disagreed on virtually everything. But they both were very straightforward people. And so they could discuss and argue and still treat each other as human beings with respect. That’s what we need more of in America today.”

  • Niraj Chokshi
  • ·

Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton praised Justice Antonin Scalia’s service to his country in a statement posted on Twitter, criticizing Republicans who in the hours since Scalia’s death have called for his replacement to be chosen by the next president.

  • Paul Kane
  • ·

“The president has said he will send a nominee to the Senate,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, told The Post a telephone interview Saturday night.

Leahy declined to discuss his private conversations with the president.

  • Niraj Chokshi
  • ·

Republican presidential contender Ben Carson uploaded a video statement to match his earlier written statement. In it, he repeats his praise of Justice Antonin Scalia and his call to wait until the next president takes office to choose a successor. Here is a transcript of his statement, followed by the video:

Like so many of my fellow Americans, I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. He was an incredible intellect and really followed the Constitution. More so, I think, than anybody in our lifetimes.

He also was a man of great wit. I had the pleasure of once receiving an honorary degree with him and I was just impressed by his personality—how he got along with everybody. And, you know, he has friends on both sides of the political spectrum. He doesn’t hold it against you if you don’t agree with him philosophically.

He’s a man that we will sorely miss and I certainly hope that his legacy will remain a strong one and that we don’t rush to replace him. It might perhaps be good to wait until we have a new president and someone who is going to put in the requisite amount of research into finding a strict constitutionalist.

  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·

Poynter has a piece up on the San Antonio Express-News, which was first to report Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in West Texas.

It began with a tip to political editor Gary Martin, “from a federal source bearing big news.”

Martin looped in Mike Leary, the newspaper’s editor and senior vice president.

From Poynter:

To break news this big, they needed at least two sources, Leary said. In a week or so, nobody might remember that the Express-News broke the story. But everyone would remember if Scalia was still alive and the Express-News inaccurately reported word of his death.

They began assigning staffers who worked feverishly to confirm the news. A reporter and a photographer who were covering a feature in West Texas’ Big Bend area were diverted to the resort to get confirmation. When they arrived, they glimpsed a hearse.

Finally, just after 3 p.m., the team got confirmation from a second source they trusted. It had been about two hours since the original tip. The Express-News published the story at about 3:30 p.m., and the story was followed quickly by The Associated Press, Reuters, and The Washington Post, which credited the Express-News.

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