With the death of United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at age 79, another political fight is brewing between Republicans and Democrats.
The duty of nominating a replacement to the nine-person court would typically fall to President Obama. Scalia was a right-winger on the court with a strident passion for interpreting the U.S. constitution in an extremely literal and reactionary manner. An Obama nominee, especially a youngish candidate with a progressive bent, would tip the balance from a rough conservative/liberal split for the eight remaining judges to a 5-4 liberal majority.
Republicans are arguing that with Obama in the last year of his presidential mandate, he should leave the task of appointing Scalia’s successor to his successor. Democrats, though, argue that the court is facing a number of important legal issues, and that delegating the nomination to Obama’s successor would necessitate the court being short-staffed for over a year.
If Obama goes ahead though, he would surely face opposition in the Republican controlled Senate which must confirm his nomination.