Scalia's Sudden Death Will Have Impact on Current Cases, Says Swarthmore College Supreme Court Expert

Article ID: 647999

Released: 15-Feb-2016 9:05 AM EST

Source Newsroom: Swarthmore College

Expert Pitch
  • Swarthmore College Professor of Political Science Carol Nackenoff

Swarthmore College Professor of Political Science Carol Nackenoff, an authority on American politics and the author of Oxford Bibliography's guide to the Supreme Court, is available ​to discuss the impact of Justice Antonin Scalia's death​.​

Nackenoff’s initial thoughts​: "Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death raises important questions not only for the future composition of the Court but for cases currently before the remaining justices. It is almost unthinkable that President Obama, so late in his second term, would be successful in getting a nominee to replace Scalia through the Senate, even should he chose a centrist, and any attempt to make a recess appointment would be highly contentious, especially in the aftermath of the Court’s 2014 decision in NLRB v. Noel Canning​," she says. "​That means that for 2016 and well into 2017, there will likely be only eight votes on what has been, on many key issues, a closely divided Court​."

She adds: "Some of the interesting questions for the immediate future concern what will become of cases on the current docket that were likely to be decided 5-4. The use of race in admission decisions at the University of Texas at Austin (Fisher v. Texas II), and whether free speech and association rights are violated when public employees are required to pay dues to public sector unions (Friedrichs v. CA Teacher’s Union) are likely to be affected. Whether a state must use a particular population baseline (total voting-age population, voting-eligible population—citizens only? those who are not felony disenfranchised?—or all population?) when drawing voting districts (Evenwel v. Abbott); whether doctors providing abortions need to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, and whether requirements such as this enacted by the State of Texas promote women’s health (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt); and a spate of challenges to the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act are all among the big issues remaining in play this term. The absence of Scalia’s vote, and his vigorous questioning in oral argument still remaining this term, will be felt.​"​​

To speak with Nackenoff​, ​please contact Mark Anskis (610-328-8271 / in the Swarthmore communications office.


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