Conspiracy theorists are at it again, claiming that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia was murdered. This is because Scalia was found with a pillow over his head. Medical reports claim he died of heart failure. Leave it to the most deluded to come to the most ludicrous conclusion.
But his death may signal the end of conservative control of the U.S. Supreme Court, and his replacement becomes the most significant issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Scalia was a brilliant thorn in the side of the liberal elite. While most liberals are saying nice things about him, many are relieved by his passing.
Conservatives have every reason to be upset.
This is a significant loss and puts even more pressure on the GOP to win the White House next year or risk a major shift in the political focus of the court.
From the moment Scalia became a member of the nation’s highest court, he changed how the court did business, and helped create a much more conservative court.
In the long term, conservatives have lost more than just another judge, but also an icon of their movement. The next judge, no matter who appoints him or her, will not fill Scalia’s large shoes. The court will definitely drift away from its ultra-conservative stance.
In the short term, critical decisions on abortion, gun rights, and unions will either be put off until a full court can hear them or result in a ruling that benefits more liberal interests.
Blocking the appointment of a new judge may help conservatives in the long term, provided they can get a GOP candidate elected in November. But in the short term, the death of Scalia has derailed lawsuits designed at advancing the conservative election.
Conservatives are also making a mistake in trying to stop President Barack Obama from nominating a replacement this year. The blatant attempt by the GOP to influence the political direction of the high court will provide the Democrats with more than a little election ammunition to use against whichever candidate the GOP eventually selects. The fight within the GOP may also weaken the GOP candidate and allow Democrats to retain the White House.
Although Obama has not yet officially named a candidate, early reports suggest he may select his current U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. This would be a dreadful mistake, since she is one of the few people who could reunite the fractured GOP.
Citing examples of other presidents who have made nominations to the Supreme Court in election years, Obama said he would nominate someone, and but ducked the question as to whether this would be a moderate.
Since the GOP-controlled Senate is not likely to vote in favor of anyone Obama nominates, the president would be better off nominating someone far less liberal, allowing Obama and Democrats to later claim they tried to be fair, but the GOP wouldn’t go for it.
This comes close to home
Hudson County has had its own brush with the U.S. Supreme Court over the last few months.
Donald Scarinci recently filed an Amicus Brief on a matter being heard by the Supreme Court of the United States.
While he described it as a minor brief, Scarinci said it felt pretty special to be chosen from among every municipal attorney in New Jersey to represent the NJ State League of Municipalities before the highest court in the land.
“No one can refer to me by the titles I have always viewed as pejorative – ‘political powerhouse attorney’ or ‘Democratic fundraiser’ or ‘top political operative’ – any more. I have unquestionably arrived as New Jersey’s top municipal attorney and one of New Jersey’s leading authorities on constitutional law,” Scarinci joked.
The ever-shrinking Bayonne school board
Just when the Bayonne Board of Education members got into a position to fill two vacant seats, another school board member resigned.
This is the third member in three months to quit.
It comes at a time when the board has been interviewing people as replacements. Initially, the board interviewed more than a dozen people to fill one post. When the second seat opened, they had to open the process again.
Board member Denis Wilbeck said the board had finally narrowed the number of possible candidates down to six.
But the resignation of Chris Piechocki this week will reopen the process once more.
The board is faced with some serious decisions, including whether to offer Superintendent Dr. Patricia McGeehan another contract renewal.
During the second round of interviews Wilbeck said that the candidates were extraordinarily qualified.
Prior to Piechocki’s resignation, Wilbeck said the board was well on its way to selecting two new board members.
Wilbeck, who was elected to a one-year term last year, said he had not yet made up his mind whether he would seek a full three-year term in November. He said he has sports interests that he had dedicated his time to.
Although he was the biggest vote-getter in the November election, Wilbeck said he hadn’t intended to run.
“Mayor Davis asked me to run,” he said. “I haven’t made up my mind yet if I am going to run in November.”
Wilbeck’s decades in the Bayonne school district make him one of the most experienced members of the board.
What happened at Henry Harris School?
School board officials will have to hurry to review security camera tapes made at Bayonne’s Henry Harris last week to see what actually happened during a confrontation between a high school official and a member of the school staff. The details are sketchy although the rumor mill has been aflutter with claims about the official. At the time of publication, no criminal charges had been filed. The security tapes are erased every week or so. If charges are filed, police would take them into evidence. Board members will also have to decide whether to suspend the people involved pending a formal investigation.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.