DSU professor explains importance of Justice Scalia’s vacant seat

It hasn’t been since the Nixon and Reagan years that a president has had more than two successful nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court. President Obama now has that opportunity with the passing of Chief Justice Antonin Scalia. It’s sparked a massive political fire storm.

Dr. Sam Hoff, a professor of history and political science and law studies director at Delaware State University says, “He (Scalia) was the intellectual giant of the conservative wing of the court. There’s no question that his passing leaves a void not only for the conservatives, but in the leader of the conservatives within the court itself.”

Dr. Hoff says with Scalia’s death, the court is left with a four to three to one tilt. The majority rests with liberals since Justice Kennedy falls into the moderate category.

Dr. Hoff goes on, “That could certainly change the direction of many of the decisions that the court has this term. That includes things like affirmative action and voting rights and abortion.”

That’s why republicans don’t want president Obama to nominate Scalia’s successor. Many argue Obama should forego the appointment because he’s in the last year of his term, giving the next president the opportunity.

However, Dr. Hoff tells 47 ABC if President Obama does make a recommendation, it’s not unheard of. In the past century, eight Chief Justices have been appointed while the commander-in-chief was in his last term. Dr. Hoff believes republicans will more than likely get their way in some sense because the senate has to approve President Obama’s selection.

He continues, “He’s sort of locked in to selecting a moderate person who has his progressive views on certain issues. Certainly on others such as the powers of the president, that person would be a supporter of the executive branch, presidential power, and separation of powers itself.”

However there is another option, President Obama could make a recess appointment. That appointment doesn’t require a senate vote and would have to been done while congress is in a hiatus for something like the Fourth of July, Easter break, or Memorial Day. That person could serve until the end of the next session of congress. The problem with that is they could be booted out as soon as the end of this calendar year.

President Obama said Saturday he would appoint Scalia’s successor in “due time.”

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