Skip to main content

CRS Report Addresses Justice Scalia's Death, Implications for Supreme Court

Many of our readers are probably wondering how the death of Justice Antonin Scalia will affect the Supreme Court, and what to expect of the political battle already being waged over the nomination of his successor. A new “legal sidebar” report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides a brief summary of these issues. Here are a few takeaways:
  • With the loss of Justice Scalia, the Court loses perhaps its greatest champion of constitutional “originalism,” the theory that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the understanding of those who ratified the document in the 18th century.  
  • Justice Scalia’s absence could mean a four-to-four split in a number of cases involving high-profile issues such as abortion, immigration, and affirmative action. In the event of an even split, the Court can either affirm the lower court’s judgment (such a decision creates no binding national precedent), or schedule the case to be reargued after the vacancy is filled.
  • Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that the President shall make appointments to the Supreme Court “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” President Obama has stated that he plans to nominate a successor, but the confirmation process in the Senate may prove difficult. The CRS paper points out that very few Justices have been both nominated and confirmed in a presidential election year, the most recent example being Frank Murphy in 1940.
Future CRS reports will cover these issues in greater detail.


Popular posts from this blog

Spying and International Law

With increasing numbers of foreign governments officially objecting to now-widely publicized U.S. espionage activities, the topic of the legality of these activities has been raised both by the target governments and by the many news organizations reporting on the issue.For those interested in better understanding this controversy by learning more about international laws concerning espionage, here are some legal resources that may be useful.

The following is a list of multinational treaties relevant to spies and espionage:
Brussels Declaration concerning the Laws and Customs of War (1874).Although never ratified by the nations that drafted it, this declaration is one of the earliest modern examples of an international attempt to codify the laws of war.Articles 19-22 address the identification and treatment of spies during wartime.These articles served mainly to distinguish active spies from soldiers and former spies, and provided no protections for spies captured in the act.The Hagu…

Citing to Vernon's Texas Codes Annotated: Finding Accurate Publication Dates (without touching a book)

When citing to a current statute, both the Bluebook (rule 12.3.2) and Greenbook (rule 10.1.1) require a  practitioner to provide the publication date of the bound volume in which the cited code section appears. For example, let's cite to the codified statute section that prohibits Texans from hunting or selling bats, living or dead. Note, however, you may remove or hunt a bat that is inside or on a building occupied by people. The statute is silent as to Batman, who for his own safety, best stay in Gotham City.
This section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife code is 63.101. "Protection of Bats." After checking the pocket part and finding no updates in the supplement, my citation will be:
Tex. Parks & Wild. Code Ann. § 63.101 (West ___ ). When I look at the statute in my bound volume of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, I can clearly see that the volume's publication date is 2002. But, when I find the same citation on Westlaw or LexisNexis, all I can see is that the …