Antonin Scalia Dies, Change Expected in Courts

By: R. Theodora Appleton

Justice Antonin Scalia was pronounced dead on February 13th at the Cibolo Creek Ranch in Texas where he was enjoying a weekend hunting trip, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Cibolo Creek Ranch, Presidio County, Texas

Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara pronounced Scalia’s death without seeing the body and attributed his demise to natural causes, said the article.

Guevara claims that she spoke with law enforcement officials who said there was no foul play at the scene, said the article.

“Scalia’s physician in Washington said that the 79-year-old justice suffered from a host of chronic conditions,” said Guevara in an interview with WSJ.

Under Texas law, it is permissible to pronounce a death without seeing the body. Yet there are people who find suspicion in that the family requested no autopsy, reported WSJ.

Chelsea Price, SAS Rutgers alum who studied criminal justice and psychology, believes that people today are hardwired to question everything nowadays which could be the root of people’s suspicion.

“Had he been in optimal health, I would have been more suspicious of his death,” said Price.

Scalia’s death came as a shock to many American’s because his health issues were less known than that some other justices, said Stuart Deutsch, former dean of Law at Rutgers Newark 1999-2009, in an email interview.

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The late Antonin Scai

Deutsch believes there is no reason to feel suspicious about the passing of Scalia. “79-year-old men die every day,” said Deutsch.

Scalia was arguably one of the most influential justices on the Supreme Court for the last generation, according to Dr. Alec Walen, professor of philosophy and law undergraduate director at Rutgers.

“While he never won the agreement of a majority of the Justices on Court, he brought originalist jurisprudence into the mainstream of legal arguments to this country,” said Walen.

Scalia’s sudden death woefully puts a new decision into the senate’s hands. Who is going to fill his position?

The Republican Majority Leader has warned that the US senate will block a vote on any nominee President Obama recommends, according to a BBC news article.

While there are individuals who want to wait to fill the position, many believe that President Obama should appoint a new justice as soon as possible.

“[President Obama} has almost a full year remaining in his term, and he has twice been elected by the people,” said Deutsch. The entire process of appointing a new justice would be completed in sixty to ninety days.

The Constitution says that it is the president’s job (with influence from the senate) to appoint a new judge, said Price.

Price was shocked when she read reports on attempts made by the Republican Senate to block any nominations from President Obama for Scalia’s replacement.

“The people elected [Obama] and they trust his opinion, and this is one of his duties,” said Price.

In the hopes that the current president will appoint a new judge, sooner rather than later, positive changes will be made in the courts, believes Price.

“Scalia was especially known for his scathing and witty dissents,” said Walen. His conservatism defined his character.

Many Americans are ready for a wind of change in the justice system and they hope it will start with a new justice.

Before Scalia’s death, the Supreme Court had been closely divided between five conservative justices and four liberal justices, according to BBC news. If a new justice isn’t appointed soon, many of the decisions may be deadlocked, said BBC news.

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“I hope that the new justice will shift the balance of the Court in favor of the progressive, liberal values of Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan,” said Deutsch.

In a perfect world, the judge to be elected will not use their own biases or agendas to heavily influence their rulings, said Price.

There are a few cases being brought to the Supreme Court in the near future that are very controversial, according to Price.

“There’s one that is dealing with Abortion regulations, another with California’s teacher’s unions…”

Now that there are only 8 judges, a lot of these cases will most likely split, said Price.

Hopefully the appointed judge will uphold American’s constitutional rights, said Price.

 

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