The passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is not an ancillary footnote to the history of the United States. The confluence of his death, the philosophical bent of the remaining eight justices and the raging political campaigns of the Republican and Democrat candidates for President has cast a spotlight on the process of appointment of Supreme Court Justices and the Office of the President. One of the most long lasting actions a President takes is the appointment FOR LIFE of a Justice to the Supreme Court. Several Presidents have appointed Justices thinking they knew how they would lean in close cases only to be surprised. Earl Warren was appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower. The Warren Court became the anathema of many conservative thinking individuals.
I have always wondered about random moments in our lives that seem insignificant at the time, but later lead to a major life change. You turn left by accident and meet the love of your life. You turn right and you are run over by a truck. Did you have free will to turn left or right? I wonder if the United States is at one of those life-altering moments this morning as Justice Scalia lies in state at the Supreme Court building.
After initial outcries by Republican politicians that President Obama should not attempt to appoint Justice Scalia’s successor, a more reasoned rhetoric has surfaced. The terror of the Republican leadership was obviously fueled by fears that the President would appoint an liberal ideologue who would change the Court to an institution led by five “liberal” Justices that legislate our lives from the bench. Subsequently, the tone has softened a bit. The President announcing he would fulfill his duty to reappoint a Justice and the Republican Chairman of the Judiciary Committee saying the committee might hold hearing on a nominee could make for an interesting 2016.
I wonder about whether our are lives are predestined by a force beyond our ability to comprehend. I also wonder if our Country has a destiny. The spot light is on our political system and how it works. Are we destined to turn right or left or go a different direction altogether. Even if by some miracle the President nominates someone and the Senate confirms, there are no guarantees. Ask President Eisenhower about his appointment of Earl Warren if you see him. Finally, we must all watch this movie to its conclusion to find out how it ends. If there is a force that created this all before the earth was formed as the Bible says or its all just random I can’t say. It will however make this year of political theater one to anticipate.