When Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died, everyone knew it would be a battle to nominate someone to replace him. They expected President Obama to nominate a liberal justice who would meet significant resistance from the Republican-led Senate. People thought Obama would then follow with a more moderate nominee and the Republicans would capitulate and narrowly accept the nomination. No one thought that three years after Scalia’s death, the Supreme Court would also be dead.
Scalia’s death was not expected. There were three older justices on the Court. He looked to be in good health; nevertheless, immediately after his death each party began to maneuver for an advantage.
The very next day Obama promised he would nominate someone in a few weeks. Within hours, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced there will be neither a vote nor hearings until after the election. Although McConnell’s rhetoric was unsurprising, it was unnecessary. The Republicans could have said nothing and just allowed the nomination to stall.
The presidential election moved forward. There were some interesting primary vote outcomes, but in the end it was Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton. Trump selected Mark Cuban as his running mate, claiming he liked his entrepreneurial spirit, his enthusiasm, and most importantly his participation on the CNBC show Shark Tank. Trump said, “Mark Cuban is the type of person that ‘Tells it like it is’ and goes on to own whatever he says rather than shrinking away and apologizing whenever the mainstream media attacks him. I see a lot of myself in him.” Journalists wonder if Trump sees ‘starring in a reality show’ as a requirement to be part of his administration.
Years later journalists, academics, and analysts are still pondering how Trump won.
Immediately following the election, the Senate Democrats declared they would not allow any person nominated by Trump to receive a vote. There would be filibuster after filibuster. The Senate Republicans threatened to invoke the ‘Nuclear Option’ and end the filibuster once and for all.
A week after inauguration, Trump nominated Judith Sheindlin to replace Scalia. That’s right, Judge Judy. Trump declared, “She is the type of person that ‘Tells it like it is’ and goes on to own whatever she says rather than shrinking away and apologizing whenever the mainstream media attacks her. I see a lot of myself in her. And she’s from Brooklyn! She’s tough.”
The worst fears have come true; participation in a reality TV show puts you first on the A-list for jobs in the Trump Administration. Charles Krauthammer thanked God Howard Cosell was dead. Cosell originated ‘Tell it like it is’ and he grew up in Brooklyn. Trump would have made Cosell the Secretary of State.”
The nominees of the Cabinet are horrendous. Just one example, Kim Kardashian is named Secretary of the Interior. Misinterpreting Interior for Interior Design, she spent all her time redecorating the federal buildings. She started with the Lincoln Monument and hired Banksy to add some color to the statue of Lincoln.
The Democrats cannot stop laughing at Trump’s choice to replace Scalia. The Republicans refuse to fight for the nominee. The Democrats do not have to filibuster to stop the nomination.
Trump responded, “Screw all of you.”
Fortunately US citizens received a valuable civics lesson on the Supreme Court and its history. They learn that the original court had only SIX justices. The Founding Fathers wanted a two-thirds majority (at least 4-2) for the Court to override congressional legislation or decisions affecting the States. The court grew over time due to the expansion of the Circuit Courts that expanded as the nation expanded. It reached TEN justices during the civil war. But was reduced to the current NINE justices in 1869.
The Court spends the next year unable to issue a decision of any significance. The tally for every major decision was a 4-4 tie. There was not much change in 2018, as Trump refused to name another nominee.
Justices Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy were vacationing together in Minnesota during the Christmas holidays and both died while ice fishing. As they hauled in a yuge (sic) fish, the ice collapsed beneath them and both died from drowning. (The Oxford English Dictionary added the word YUGE in 2016 based on the constant usage by Trump and Bernie Sanders. Its definition is “something much larger than HUGE.”)
Trump is unmoved by their deaths and does not nominate anyone else to fill the now three vacant seats.
The justices are still deadlocked (3-3) and the Supreme Court is unable to issue any significant decisions.
And then, on March 15, 2019, while celebrating her 86th birthday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies. And with her death, so died the Supreme Court. Again, the US citizens received a valuable civics lesson. The Supreme Court can only meet when there is a quorum. When there were six justices, a quorum was four. Today a quorum requires six justices.
The third branch of government is now gone. The US is now unchecked and unbalanced.
Political historians are now blaming Ed Meese for this predicament. Back in 1985 Meese laid out in his speech before the American Bar Association, of reshaping the Court around one coherent jurisprudence of original intention. He started the politicization of the Supreme Court. What neither Republicans nor Democrats could achieve through the ballot box could be achieved by stacking the Court with political puppets. And both parties are guilty.
The constitutional check on President Trump is absent. Trump requested a new census (before the decennial) in 2019 claiming the Constitution was approved in 1789 and the Census has been one year late ever since. The Census shows that there are 270 electoral votes in the Manhattan Trump Tower alone. Accordingly, he is re-elected in 2020 winning 270 electoral votes.
Just my opinion. I may be wrong.