Leave the Scalia Chair Vacant

By Pat Buchanan

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Pat Buchanan
Patrick J .Buchanan

USA –  -(Ammoland.com)- It is a measure of the stature and the significance of Justice Antonin Scalia that, upon the news of his death at a hunting lodge in Texas, Washington was instantly caught up in an unseemly quarrel over who would succeed him.

But no one can replace Justice Scalia.

He was a giant among jurists. For a third of a century, he led the conservative wing of the high court, creating a new school of judicial thought called “originalism.”

But originalism is not conservatism, which, in the judicial era that preceded Scalia, often meant court decisions that “conserved” the radical social revolution Earl Warren's court had imposed upon us.

Scalia believed in going back to the founding documents of the republic and discerning from them the original meaning and intent of the framers.

He would look at the purpose of the authors of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and post-Civil War amendments, and conclude that it was an absurdity to discover there, or read into them, a constitutional right to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same sex.

The words Scalia used to ridicule such nonsense did as much to discredit majority opinions as did his dissenting votes.

I remember being called into the office of White House Chief of Staff Don Regan, 30 years ago, to be informed that the judge whom Ronald Reagan would name to replace William Rehnquist, who had been named Chief Justice, would be U.S. Appellate Court Judge Antonin Scalia.

Regan was grinning at me as he made the announcement, and I let out of a whoop of victory. Since Nixon days, some of us had argued for naming an Italian Catholic to the high court. Yet, all six of Nixon's nominees, and the only nominee of Gerald Ford, were WASPs.

Scalia's death removes the court's most brilliant mind and most colorful member. Personable, witty, acerbic, a fine writer, he used his opinions, mostly dissents, not only to make his case but to skewer the majority opinion.

And while Sen. Mitch McConnell may be faulted for not waiting a decent interval after Scalia's death to declare that the Senate will not confirm any Obama nominee to succeed Scalia, the majority leader's position is exactly the right one for the party.

Some of us in the Nixon campaign of 1968 still recall how Chief Justice Earl Warren, fearing his old antagonist Richard Nixon might be elected, offered his resignation to LBJ in June of 1968, but contingent on Senate confirmation of a successor.

The fix was in.

Johnson nominated Justice Abe Fortas, a crony, to succeed Warren and Judge Homer Thornberry of Texas, another crony, to fill the Fortas seat. Nixon, urged by his old friend William Rogers, Ike's attorney general, stayed out of the battle. Some of us did not.

Senate Republicans, led by Bob Griffin of Michigan and including John Tower, Howard Baker and Strom Thurmond, held up the vote on Fortas, until they had enough support to sustain a filibuster and run out the clock. In October, Fortas threw in the towel.

The following spring, President Nixon named U.S. Appellate Court Judge Warren Burger to succeed Earl Warren as chief justice.

The GOP Senate majority should follow the example of that gutsy Senate Republican minority of half a century ago. The window for any Supreme Court nominees should be slammed shut — until 2017.

Republicans should tell our “transformative” president that his days of transforming America are over, that he will not be remaking the court into a bastion of the left after his departure, and that, while he has the right to nominate whom he wishes, the U.S. Senate will exercise its right to reject any nominee he sends up. If the court will then face many 4-4 decisions for the next year, so be it.

Given the divisions on the court and balance of power, and the disposition of liberal justices to impose upon the nation an ideology that would never be embraced democratically, the Republican Party is almost duty-bound to oppose any Obama nominee.

What kind of Supreme Court do the American people wish to have? That is a question to be decided in 2016 — not by a lame-duck president, but by the American electorate in November.

Does the nation want an activist judiciary to remake America into a more liberal society, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor would like to see it remade?

Or do the American people want a more constitutional court that returns power to the people and their elected representatives?

Let's have it out.

Republicans should tell the American people that when they vote in November they will be deciding not only the next president, not only which party shall control Congress, they will be deciding what kind of Supreme Court their country should have. Which is as it should be.

If the GOP can't win this argument, they have lost the country.


Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.

  • 11 thoughts on “Leave the Scalia Chair Vacant

    1. Elect me for SCOTUS I am fair and impartial and willing to designate any Unconstitutional law as such. Nor will I allow elevating others to “protect them” everyone is the same- a piece of meat on some bone wrapped in skin.

    2. I think Obama is smart enough to know that only a “moderate” nominee would have a chance to get a hearing in the Republican controlled Senate. I much prefer that scenario over the gun hater that Clinton or Sanders will nominate if one of them is elected.

      1. What Barry Soetoro calls moderate and what the rest of us think of as moderate are two different things. Remember Barry’s goal is to FUNDAMENTALLY change the U.S. If anything other than a rock solid Constitutionalist is appointed, Barry will get his way for the next hundred years (as determined by the life of the jurist and the decisions rendered.)

        Remember Barry already replaced Sandra Day O’Connor with a screaming liberal. That tipped the S. CT. to five to three (and one so called swing vote who is a closet liberal if you look at his decisions). If the senate republicans cave in and consent to any appointment that Barry makes, then it will be six to two ( and a closet liberal).

        Oh, and Eric, you have my vote, brother, but the justices are not elected. Sorry.

    3. I have a feeling that Mr. Buchanan has coined a new phrase. I can’t help but wonder if this seat will forever be known, regardless of its occupant, as, “The Scalia Chair.”

    4. Hmm, Is anyone paying attention?
      1. Antonin Scalia was found with a pillow on his face.
      2. The phone line was out of service.
      3. An official appointed by the Obama Administration pronounced Antonin Scalia dead OVER THE PHONE!
      4. The body was sent to be embalmed immediately and all fluid evidence was flushed down the sewer.
      5. In every other instance where a high profile individual dies unexpectedly a autopsy is performed. In this case the autopsy was denied by political direction.
      6. Antonin Scalia was the only major road block to Obama’s criminal “Green Energy” bill.
      7. Unless you learned Common Core in school the “math” required to figure this out should be fairly simple. There is another body In Obama’s closet.

    5. Mr. Buchanan. I struggled to make myself read your entire article. I almost always agree with you and do not pretend to be more knowledgeable than you. But this time you are wrong. The wording is clear, the President shall offer for appointment. Not, “well this term is within a year of being over and we don’t think he should execute his dictate, we might not like who he presents, but even if he puts forth a great nominee, we are going to not vote on the nominee because we don’t like the President and feel it is necessary to make a political statement and deny the nominee, just because. Nanana Booboo Mr. President. ”
      Sounds pretty juvenile and trite does it not? I believe in gun rights and all of the other rights we enjoy as U.S. Citizens. I am not afraid of the process.
      I am a middle ground voter and politician, many Americans cling to neither the Far Left or Right. I am confident I speak for millions of citizens that say that the process of selection is valuable and hopefully indispensable. Let it go forward.

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