Are stakes so high that GOP won't budge?

Monday, February 15, 2016
 | 
Chad Groening, Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

Antonin ScaliaA conservative columnist says it's absolutely imperative that Senate Republicans not cave to pressure from Democrats to allow President Obama to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia before the next president takes office.

It's been less than 72 hours since Justice Scalia passed away, but the political battle has already begun with Obama and Senate Democrats jumping on the opportunity to place another liberal justice on the high court. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and other Republicans have already said they will not allow another Obama appointee to be confirmed during this election year.

Robert Knight is a senior fellow at the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for OneNewsNow and The Washington Times.

Robert Knight"We're going to see President Obama cite the Constitution as his reason for wanting to shove another liberal Supreme Court justice down America's throat," Knight tells OneNewsNow. "But if he succeeds, then the Constitution itself would be virtually worthless because he's appointed people who have no respect for that document. So the Republicans had better hold firm and oppose this at all costs."

And even though the Republicans have had a poor track record in that regard, Knight thinks the stakes are just too high this time.

"I think they're going to hold the line," he states. "I think they're going to say there's nothing in the Constitution that says [they] have to vote immediately. [They] could hold it up indefinitely and, in a sense, make it the primary issue in the presidential campaign and let the American people decide."

TX case pending

Cases before the Supreme Court will go on despite Scalia's death. One of those cases underscores an issue that a Texas pro-lifer says needs to be decided for the sake of all 50 states.

U.S. Supreme CourtOn March 2, the high court is to hear a challenge to the Texas law concerning abortion clinic health and safety standards. Included in that law is a requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges with a hospital within 30 miles. John Seago of Texas Right to Life tells OneNewsNow that Scalia's passing leaves the court with the distinct possibility of some opinions ending in a 4-4 tie.

In which case, he explains, "the holding of the lower court would prevail – which means the Fifth Circuit ruling would be upheld [in this case], and that would be generally good for Texas."

But that would mean the decision would only impact Texas. Seago says what needs to be decided for the entire country is the argument that a law such as the one in Texas imposes a substantial burden on women to obtain an abortion.

"And so whether it's informed consent legislation like our sonogram bill, whether it's defunding Planned Parenthood, or even just common-sense medical standards, the abortion industry always runs to the court and claims that this pro-life law creates an undue burden," he says, summarizing that the term "undue burden" needs to be defined.

Seago stresses that what Scalia's death should mean to voters is that the next president may not only nominate a replacement for Scalia but perhaps three other Supreme Court justices as well.

More on 4-4 split

Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel with Americans United for Life, recalls the impact of Scalia's pro-life presence. "The last time the court considered an abortion case, the court divided 5-4 – and Justice Scalia was one of the five who approved the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act back in 2007," he shares.

And Scalia was with the 5-4 majority in the Hobby Lobby case in which closely held corporations aren't forced to violate their faith by the mandate of providing abortion-causing drugs. The AUL attorney has concerns about another pro-life matter before the high court.

Forsythe

"... In the HHS mandate cases, all the lower-court decisions rejected an accommodation for the plaintiffs – the colleges, the charities, the Little Sisters of the Poor – and so those bad lower-court decisions would stand," Forsythe warns.

According to the attorney, a 4-4 split vote in the HHS mandate cases would mean the nuns and priests would be forced to provide free insurance coverage for contraception and abortion-causing drugs in violation of their faith – or pay huge fines. The case is to be heard March 23.

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