An event that will emanate shock waves throughout the 2016 Presidential campaign, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia is dead. Within hours, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Senate would not confirm an Obama nominee and President Obama released a statement saying he will nominate a successor regardless, setting the stage for the first major Constitutional crisis of the 21st century. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I wish Antonin Scalia didn’t die.
Existential Constitutional crisis and the end of an accomplished man’s life aside, let’s talk politics. It’s a no brainer: this is a political advantage for Obama, Cruz, and Clinton. Obama because he might be able to name a third of the Court and name the future swing vote for decades. Cruz because he’s made the Court and consistent conservatism center pieces of his campaign, and Scalia’s death just rocked conservative interest groups. Clinton gets a double advantage: she will declare that if it were up to her new administration, she would name Barack Obama to the Court. If there is one thing more terrifying to conservatives than President Obama naming Antonin Scalia’s replacement, it’s Obama personally replacing him. This might actually motivate Senate Republicans to take Obama’s nominee seriously, and it will absolutely provide Clinton with the optics of being linked to Obama, something that will help her through the primaries.
Campaigns rarely respond well to unpredicted developments. Hold on to your butts.