Antonin Scalia’s Death Changes SCOTUS Dynamic

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia was found dead on Saturday in a West Texas resort. Scalia has reportedly died of natural causes. He was 79.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Scalia’s death a hit to conservatism and insisted that his replacement be selected under a new president. Obama said that he would pick a replacement “in due time” and will not delegate this duty to the next president of the United States.

Scalia’s passing opens up a new struggle for the POTUS, as Republicans in Congress are likely to vote against whoever Obama picks as Scalia’s successor.

Scalia’s death also means that there is one less conservative in the Supreme Court, which could shake things up as far as Supreme Court decisions go. The New York Times reported that on March 2, the Supreme Court will hear its first abortion case in nine years — Whole Woman's Health v. Cole — addressing a Texas law that would leave the state with 10 abortion clinics down from its original 40. Without Scalia, a 4-4 split would leave the law unchanged, but his absence does allow the opportunity for a possible liberal victory that could spark national change in abortion laws.

Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986 during the Reagan Era. NPR reported that 53 Supreme Court cases have been decided by a 5-4 margin, which is very tight, and with Scalia gone, these decisions could soon go in a different direction.

One of the major decisions Scalia had a vote in was the 2011 case, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, in which the Supreme Court threw out a sexual discrimination case against Wal-Mart with evidence that female employees in higher positions made $1.16 less than male employees in the same position, reported NPR.

CNN reported on Saturday that the Obama administration wasted no time searching for Scalia’s replacement, and by the end of this week there will likely be three to four candidates in consideration for the position.

Scalia’s funeral is set for Saturday, Feb. 20.