The death of the leader of the Supreme Court’s conservative wing will have national ramifications, undoubtedly shifting the conversation of the presidential election and potentially touching issues from abortion to gun rights to climate change to affirmative action.
So, it’s somewhat understandable that all of 37 minutes passed after word broke of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death before liberals and conservatives moved from dutifully honoring his legacy to putting on the political boxing gloves.
There is a lot at stake for people at both ends of the ideological spectrum. I get it. But I think it’s wrong.
It makes me uncomfortable to see liberals quickly discount Scalia’s legacy and even celebrate his death in posts on social media.
When I posted the news on my Facebook timeline, within an hour of it breaking, one liberal friend of mine commented, “Is it wrong to ‘like’ this?” A fraction of a second later I got a notification. One new like.
My friend’s response was mild compared to others. But it still made me feel uncomfortable. It reminded me of the celebrations I witnessed when news broke that Osama bin Laden had been killed, if the worse thing bin Laden ever did was uphold his beliefs of constitutional textualism and original intent. If only.
As a reminder, Scalia’s legacy is more nuanced than many liberals would like to believe. He thought affirmative action had the potential to hurt black students at elite universities, sure, but he was also a champion of criminal defendants’ rights.
While some liberals celebrated, conservatives were turning Scalia’s death into a political tool, threatening to block whomever President Obama nominates.
Apparently, a president is not supposed to do his or her job during the last year in office.
More likely, though, the threat to block whomever Obama nominates is simply because Obama will have nominated him or her.
Again, this is wrong. And it is a disservice to one of the most influential justices of our time.
As things start to get ugly, I think it’s important that we take step back.
Living under the expectation of political divisiveness and gridlock, it may come as a surprise to learn that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the most liberal judges on the bench, and Scalia were friends. Or to use her words: “Best buddies.”
They rode elephants together in India, shared family vacations together and had the same love for opera.
Their relationship is an example of how two people with incredible power and complete opposite ideological differences can work together, balance each other out even, and be better because of it.
Instead of strapping on the gloves, members of Congress should look to these two as a guide to make a decision that isn’t necessarily better for one party or the other, but a decision that is good for the entire country.