A note from the Editor

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is dead.

That’s unfortunate for him, but people die every day. So what?

Well, as anyone who pays attention to the news should know, there is a great deal of hostility between President Obama and the Republican-controlled Senate. Since it’s Obama’s duty to nominate a replacement justice and the Senate’s duty to approve his nomination, this is basically guaranteed to be the site of the next bitter partisan struggle in D.C.
Here we go again.

Republicans will be upset that Obama gets the opportunity to nominate a Justice in the last year before he leaves office, but really this amounts to little more than sour grapes. After all, Ronald Reagan nominated a justice during his final year as president. If the grand old man of the modern conservative movement did it, then it would certainly be hypocritical to throw a fit when the same opportunity falls to Obama, right? Of course, but hypocrisy is the bread-and-butter of politics in today’s America.

We should also be careful to remember the importance of the Supreme Court. The 9 justices of the court are at the head of an entire branch of the Federal Government, and their rulings personally impact every citizen in the United States. Two cases stand out in recent memory. The 2000 presidential election was arguably decided by the Supreme Court in favor of George Bush. The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision removed the limits on the amount of money corporations can spend on political campaigns. The impact of these two decisions alone is absolutely monumental.

It therefore almost goes without saying that, given the lifetime terms of Supreme Court justices, the balance of political persuasions among members of the court have long-lasting effects. Long after a president leaves office, his appointed court nominees remain. This is precisely why the Republicans will do everything within their power to deny Obama the opportunity to choose another, popular mandate be damned!

That’s certainly not my idea of good governance, but it’s the governance we’ve got. Looking at the current state of the Republican Party, I often wonder how much longer they can really go on as they have been. The fact that a racist, sexist, demagogue like Donald Trump thrills and excites such an extensive portion of the Republican base is, to me, an indication of rot at the party’s heart. Perhaps the changing demographics of the country will eventually compel them to abandon their scorched-earth tactics in Congress for the sake of relevancy. Or perhaps not. Either way, for the foreseeable future a fierce partisan insurgency seems to be the order of the day. Best break out the popcorn; this is going to be one hell of a spectacle.

Whatever your political persuasion, go make your voice heard on election day.

–Sam Hartley, Editor-in-Chief