Hart: Justice Antonin Scalia: a man in full

Hart: Justice Antonin Scalia: a man in full

February 19th, 2016 by Ron Hart in Opinion Columns

A flag flies at half-staff outside the Supreme Court, where Justice Antonin Scalia will lie in repose today.

Photo by STEPHEN CROWLEY

It was a great blow to freedom and to the Constitution when Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly. I predict that, in a closely watched and contentious decision, the Supremes vote 5-3 to buy flowers for his funeral.

I was fortunate to meet Scalia on a few occasions. Once I brought a parking ticket and asked if he could look into it for me. He said he would have, but he had jury duty that day. No one laughed harder and took himself less seriously. Scalia was likable, authentic, approachable, brilliant and intellectually honest.

Scalia, the justice most hated by the Left, was nominated by President Ronald Reagan and confirmed 98-0 by the Senate in 1986. Can you imagine that today?

There have been two important rulings in recent years by the court. One was the same-sex marriage decision, in which the court was asked to decide if defining same-sex marriage is a state's right, or whether marriage would remain traditionally defined only as the union of two resentful and entrapped people who eventually end up wearing sweatpants to watch "Wheel of Fortune" every night.

Now gay marriage is the same as regular marriage in America, just with a lot fewer arguments on who left the toilet seat up. The next logical decision might be for the court to rule on bisexual marriages — which could go either way.

The disappointing ruling was on Obamacare, which will define Chief Justice John Roberts as he broke with conservatives. Liberals on the court are political pawns who vote together 95 percent of the time; conservatives do so only about 70 percent. There is more intellectual honesty among the conservatives and less purely political toeing of the party line. It's the same in the Democratic Party, whose members vote in lockstep as they are directed by party leaders — as do their justices. Within the GOP, there are robust internal debates on issues. Any thinking person should want the latter.

Roberts' swing vote to declare Obamacare constitutional upheld the government takeover of one-seventh of our economy. Obama "spiked the football" after the ruling and continues to offer dubious anecdotal evidence that Obamacare is working. Because of Obamacare, he said, an autistic boy can talk, a woman has thrown away her wheelchair, and a barber was cured of cancer. We are so lucky to have him; before Obamacare, there was only death.

The upcoming battle to replace Scalia is important. Supreme Court justices cannot be removed from the bench except by impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate, which has never happened. The only other appointed lifetime political job in Washington is being the husband of Hillary Clinton.

When Justice John Paul Stevens left the court at age 89 (he was so old they had to keep reminding him to close his robe), we no longer had a Protestant on the Supreme Court. As a minority, we WASPs will soon be getting into Harvard with 950 SAT scores and qualifying for casino licenses.

Not all the court did during Scalia's 30-year tenure was boring. Anna Nicole Smith appeared before the justices once to make her case. One might think she'd be uncomfortable before the Supreme Court, but, in her day, Anna Nicole spent a lot of time around old men in robes.

Obama will do all the shady dealing he can to appoint a liberal, even as almost every liberal constitutional law professor on the news says he should not. Obama was created by liberal professors in the leftist theoretical world they call "higher education." They are starting to realize that he has escaped their laboratory, and they fear what he might do.

Hopefully, Obama will not overreach by trying his "jiggery-pokery," as Scalia would call it, with a recess appointment, thereby preventing the Senate from fulfilling its role to confirm a new justice. Sadly, most Americans won't be paying attention. Most feel it's not as big a deal to replace a Supreme Court justice as it was when Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul left "American Idol."

Contact Ron Hart at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.

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