The sudden death of Antonin Scalia has renewed an important and often overlooked conversation in America about the process of replacing a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the debate over whether the current President of the United States (“POTUS”) or his successor will nominate the inheritor of Scalia’s seat has greatly overshadowed his accomplishments.
Regardless of whether you agreed with Scalia, he demanded respect. He displayed a quick whit and candor in his legal opinions. He challenged attorneys to answer difficult questions, even before they were done presenting their cases. He demonstrated an ability to build and maintain a close friendship with someone who was his polar opposite politically. Even as a member of the Supreme Court bar, I never had an opportunity to meet him; however, those who had the pleasure have told me that he made you feel instantly comfortable and important, even though he was one of the most intimidating figures in modern history.
It is likely that the current POTUS will be the one to nominate Scalia’s successor. Even if the current POTUS nominates the heir to the Scalia seat, there are three (3) spots which are likely to be open within the next few years due to the age of the current justices. Hopefully, who ever is nominated in the future focuses on process, not agenda; however, it is nearly impossible to eliminate political affiliation and thought process. Therefore, it is SO important to consider the power of POTUS nomination when you go to vote. In the meantime, please enjoy this article that Time magazine recently posted about the process of replacement: