SPEA panel to explore impact of Scalia’s death

Post by IU Newsroom intern Annie Brackemyre

Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last weekend ushered a flurry of controversy. Conspiracy theorists aside, Democratic and Republican elected officials and presidential hopefuls remain locked in a standoff, not yet over who should assume Scalia’s chair, but who should nominate his successor. The result is a hyper-partisan duel over historical precedent and constitutional interpretation.

Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Antonin Scalia (Supreme Court photo)

A panel of experts from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Bloomington will discuss Scalia’s influence and the debate following his death on Friday, Feb. 19, from noon-1 p.m. in SPEA 167. The event, titled “After Scalia,” is free and open to the public, and lunch will be provided.

Panelists will include Beth Cate, associate professor in SPEA; Andrea Need, director of SPEA undergraduate academic affairs; Paul Helmke, SPEA professor of practice; and Les Lenkowsky, SPEA professor of practice.

Both Republicans and Democrats are testing the waters in the appointment process, largely because the appointment possibility and the political climate are unprecedented. It has been over a century since a Supreme Court justice died during an election year and over 20 years since a White House and Senate were controlled by different parties when a Supreme Court justice was nominated.

Scalia’s death leaves the Supreme Court with four conservative justices and four liberal justices. Although Justice Anthony Kennedy is sometimes a swing vote, the court is now expected to reach a 4-4 tie in upcoming landmark cases on abortion, immigration and birth control. A tie upholds the lower court’s ruling.

Amidst the political argument over the Supreme Court’s most outspoken conservative, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most outspoken liberal, showed that a space still exists for politicians and scholars to disagree passionately but respectfully.

In her statement following Scalia’s passing, Ginsburg said, “He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh.”

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