Random things I've been thinking about in the five days since Antonin Scalia died.
It's going to be a challenge for Obama to find a justice willing to be a
pawn in a historical/constitutional drama--rather than the next Supreme
2. The GOP base seems more sensitive to the
Supreme Court, and Scalia's death seems more likely to benefit
Republicans. It won't move the needle much, but one or two percent here
and one or two percent there and pretty soon you're talking real
3. The politics, both in the Senate and on the Court,
are likely to be unexpected. The Court is not going to want to deadlock,
and I think people overestimate the 4-4 votes ahead. (The Court doesn't
think like legislators do, and counting votes is always dicey.)
the Senate, I think a few members are bigger institutionalists than we
may expect. The Senate functions only because of behavioral
norms--strictly followed unwritten rules--and once those are
transgressed, government fails to work. We assume the entire GOP
consists of bomb-throwers happy to tear down the structure of
government. That may be wrong.
4. Everyone is also starting to
realize that Scalia's death is only the first in what will be
substantial turnover in the next two presidential terms. It's hard to
imagine Ginsberg (almost 83), Kennedy (79), and Breyer (77) will all be
on the Court when Chelsea Clinton is sworn in in January 2025. This
isn't the last fight.