When Chief Justice Warren Burger retired in 1986, President Ronald Reagan promoted just William Rehnquist to Chief Justice and appointed Justice Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court. Scalia was one of the most outspoken justices in the history of the court and performed the job description the way it is explained in the Constitution. He was a compassionate man with respect to the will of the states and the people and used the Constitution as a springboard to write the wrongs and preserve the rights of the people guaranteed by the Constitution.
The judicial branch of government is a law enforcement entity and is the one branch that needs to be static until pressed into service with a court case appealed to the highest court in the land. While today’s presidents want to appoint justices in-line with their political ideology (Democrats appoint liberals, Republicans support conservatives) and the Senate confirms or denies depending on the political ideology of the majority party. The ideal candidate can have personal feelings about liberal or conservative politics but in his or her work, needs to be a slight hash mark right of the center where the status quo resides—the goal if the judicial branch of government is to preserve and uphold the status quo except when the status quo conflicts with the Constitution in which case the Constitution must win. A Supreme Court justice must be fair, impartial (although always partisan to the Constitution) and a man or woman of integrity. Antonin Scalia was that person; and the last of his kind we will see for generations unless the American people readapt the philosophy and temperament of the Reagan years.
Justice Scalia said the death penalty is not defined as cruel and unusual punishment which Americans are protected from by the Eight Amendment. He did however say that it needs to be implemented in the most technological humane way; i.e. do not put an inmate to death by stoning or crucifixion now that lethal injection is available; and that the Constitution does not mandate ever state must have a death penalty—states have the right to choose. Antonin Scalia will go down as one of the best Supreme Court justices in history. Whether you agreed with him or not, he did the job the way it was supposed to be done and was a great scholar of our great Constitution. He will be missed. I personally think that President George W. Bush, when appointed John Robberts to replace the Rehnquist, Scalia should have been promoted to Chief Justice and Robberts as an associate justice. With a Democrat controlled House, it would have been difficult to get that confirmed and would have delayed Robberts confirmation. Unfortunately, John Robberts turned out to be the twenty-first century Earl Warren who had a conservative background and the Warren Court was one of the most, if not the most liberal courts in history.
Although President Obama will appoint, it is unlikely anyone will be confirmed as the result could be five liberals that will affect how a conservative president can function for decades to come. The Supreme Court will probably table any votes until Scalia’s replacement is appointed and confirmed by the new president after 01-20-2017 but if anything must be voted on, and if it is a 4-4 tie, the protocol is the ayes have it, but no constitutional precedent is set and it will be re-evaluated when the ninth justice is in place.
To Antonin Scalia, last of his kind. RIP.