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#1
Old 07-02-2018, 02:08 PM
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What happens if a supreme court justice was assassinated for obvious political reasons?

Don't need answer fast :P

Let's say hypothetically one of them was assassinated because someone was upset over their perceived political bent? And that perceived political bent was opposite that of the President who would be presumably picking the successor? What would happen?
#2
Old 07-02-2018, 02:18 PM
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That depends on the President and the Congress.
#3
Old 07-02-2018, 02:19 PM
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Legally, what would happen is that the assassin (if caught) would be tried and hopefully imprisoned, and the President, with advice and consent of the Senate, would nominate a replacement. One may well think that this outcome is less than ideal, but that's the way it is, and changing it would require a Constitutional amendment.
#4
Old 07-02-2018, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
That depends on the President and the Congress.
Exactly. The process might be rather smooth if the president's party is in control of the Senate. If the other party is in control, it might get rocky. As we recently saw, the opposition party might even refuse to ratify the nominee, hoping to get a different result after the next election. Until recently, the minority party could stop things by using the filibuster, but that option was eliminated in 2017 in order for the Republicans to ratify Gorsuch without having the 60 votes for cloture.

Last edited by John Mace; 07-02-2018 at 02:53 PM.
#5
Old 07-02-2018, 02:53 PM
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God, new nightmare to think about.
#6
Old 07-02-2018, 02:57 PM
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......asking for a friend?
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#7
Old 07-02-2018, 03:55 PM
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What will happen is that the thread will get moved to IMHO, since no factual answer is possible.

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#8
Old 07-02-2018, 04:08 PM
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Depends on if an enterprising young law student wrote a brief theorizing on it.
#9
Old 07-02-2018, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
...the President, with advice and consent of the Senate, would nominate a replacement.

[snip]

...changing it would require a Constitutional amendment.
This is the correct answer.
#10
Old 07-02-2018, 05:41 PM
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I'm guessing the OP isn't asking about what technically/legally would happen, but rather what the political consequences would be.


1. If the President's party holds the Senate majority, then it all depends on the mercy of the President in question. Say someone shoots Sotomayor during Trump's presidency. Then it all depends on whether Trump wants to be "classy" and nominate a moderate or liberal to replace the deceased liberal, or whether Trump wants to replace a Sotomayor with a Pryor and swing SCOTUS hard to the right. There is nothing, other than the self-restraint of the POTUS and his party, to prevent them from doing so.


2. If the President's party is in the minority in the Senate, then there's a good chance that any nominee who isn't of the similar bent as the one that just got assassinated will be blocked. If Senate Democrats were in the majority, and Trump tried to replace a Sotomayor with a Pryor (or even a Garland,) they wouldn't allow that.
#11
Old 07-02-2018, 05:51 PM
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Of the 153 nominees to SCOTUS during the history of the US, only 30 have been unsuccessful, and of those 30 only 11 have been rejected by the Senate, the last one being Robert Bork, nominated by Reagan.
#12
Old 07-02-2018, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
Of the 153 nominees to SCOTUS during the history of the US, only 30 have been unsuccessful, and of those 30 only 11 have been rejected by the Senate, the last one being Robert Bork, nominated by Reagan.
Yes, but none were under circumstances like what the OP describes. And you might technically add Garland to that list too. SCOTUS-nominee-ing has become far more polarized and politicized today than three decades ago.

Antonin Scalia was confirmed 98-0 unanimously by the Senate 32 years ago, at the age of fifty. Today, the fifty-year old version of him would only pass the Senate by a vote of 51-49.
#13
Old 07-02-2018, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Ashtura View Post
Don't need answer fast :P

Let's say hypothetically one of them was assassinated because someone was upset over their perceived political bent? And that perceived political bent was opposite that of the President who would be presumably picking the successor? What would happen?
The selection process would be the same regardless of how the seat was vacated.

Are you looking for an answer more specifically related to the assassination of a Supreme?
#14
Old 07-02-2018, 07:21 PM
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Another precipitous erosion of constitutional rights. Maybe something approaching martial law. There hasn't been a good assassination in a long time.

The weapon of choice would have a lot to do with the reaction.
#15
Old 07-02-2018, 09:17 PM
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Does Harriet Miers not count as "rejected"? Do you mean a full floor vote?
#16
Old 07-03-2018, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Leaper View Post
Depends on if an enterprising young law student wrote a brief theorizing on it.
Heh. Beat me to it.
#17
Old 07-03-2018, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
There hasn't been a good assassination in a long time.
We've come awfully close: Reagan in '81, Gifford in '11, Scalise in '17.
#18
Old 07-03-2018, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
We've come awfully close: Reagan in '81, Gifford in '11, Scalise in '17.
There is an argument for Paul Wellstone.
#19
Old 07-03-2018, 08:32 AM
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There is? I highly doubt there's a respectable one.
#20
Old 07-03-2018, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
Of the 153 nominees to SCOTUS during the history of the US, only 30 have been unsuccessful, and of those 30 only 11 have been rejected by the Senate, the last one being Robert Bork, nominated by Reagan.
In what sense was Merrick Garland not rejected by the Senate?
#21
Old 07-03-2018, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
There is an argument for Paul Wellstone.
Not really. His Wikipedia page pretty thoroughly documents the fact that the pilot and co-pilot were a couple of third-rate fuck-ups flying right at stall speed moments before the crash, and there was never any evidence of foul play found on the plane itself or any of the victims.
#22
Old 07-03-2018, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by OldGuy View Post
In what sense was Merrick Garland not rejected by the Senate?
In the sense that he was rejected only by McConnell and Grassley. We don't know what the Senate would have done.
#23
Old 07-03-2018, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
I'm guessing the OP isn't asking about what technically/legally would happen, but rather what the political consequences would be.


1. If the President's party holds the Senate majority, then it all depends on the mercy of the President in question. Say someone shoots Sotomayor during Trump's presidency. Then it all depends on whether Trump wants to be "classy" and nominate a moderate or liberal to replace the deceased liberal, or whether Trump wants to replace a Sotomayor with a Pryor and swing SCOTUS hard to the right. There is nothing, other than the self-restraint of the POTUS and his party, to prevent them from doing so.


2. If the President's party is in the minority in the Senate, then there's a good chance that any nominee who isn't of the similar bent as the one that just got assassinated will be blocked. If Senate Democrats were in the majority, and Trump tried to replace a Sotomayor with a Pryor (or even a Garland,) they wouldn't allow that.
Yes, that's it. If, for example (and God forbid), a left leaning judge were assassinated right now, with the express purpose and known motive of getting a right leaning judge as a replacement (and I really hope I'm not on a watchlist right now, this is not something I want), I imagine there would be immense pressure to replace them with a similar leaning judge. But I simply cannot see that happening, honestly regardless of who the president was. And would republican senators keep downvoting any nominee who wasn't to the left? I seriously doubt it.

Last edited by Ashtura; 07-03-2018 at 10:02 AM.
#24
Old 07-03-2018, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
Heh. Beat me to it.
And me, too.
#25
Old 07-03-2018, 03:26 PM
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Conservative Justice, conservative President, conservative Senate: New conservative Justice.

Conservative Justice, conservative President, liberal Senate: New conservative Justice.

Conservative Justice, liberal President, conservative Senate: Senate process stalled until the next election resulting in a conservative President or liberal Senate.

Conservative Justice, liberal President, liberal Senate: New liberal or center Justice

Liberal Justice, conservative President, conservative Senate: New conservative Justice.

Liberal Justice, conservative President, liberal Senate: New conservative Justice.

Liberal Justice, liberal President, conservative Senate: Senate process stalled until the next election resulting in a conservative President or liberal Senate.

Liberal Justice, liberal President, liberal Senate: New liberal or center Justice.
#26
Old 07-03-2018, 03:28 PM
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The only difference between this and a normal death of a SCOTUS justice would be that there could be a steep political cost for nominating a justice who is the opposite of the deceased one. Trying to replace a murdered far-lefty with a far-righty could cost Republicans big at the polls, making moderates and centrists vote against the GOP. Ditto if Democrats tried to replace a murdered far-righty with a far-lefty.
#27
Old 07-03-2018, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
... Conservative Justice, conservative President, liberal Senate: New conservative Justice. ...
This is, I think, the outcome of the midterm elections the Dems are hoping for (that they retake the Senate, as well as the House but that's immaterial to the issue of judicial confirmations). If they do so, and by some miracle Kennedy's SCOTUS seat is still unfilled, do you think they intend to confirm any of the conservative candidates on Trump's list? My impression is that they do not.
#28
Old 07-03-2018, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
This is, I think, the outcome of the midterm elections the Dems are hoping for (that they retake the Senate, as well as the House but that's immaterial to the issue of judicial confirmations). If they do so, and by some miracle Kennedy's SCOTUS seat is still unfilled, do you think they intend to confirm any of the conservative candidates on Trump's list? My impression is that they do not.
The conservatives will cry 'Unfair!' and the liberals will fold. Maybe they'll deny the first candidate but they'll settle for some conservative in the end.

Last edited by TriPolar; 07-03-2018 at 05:02 PM.
#29
Old 07-05-2018, 06:29 AM
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I'm surprised this hasn't happened yet. A conservative with 4 bullets could reset the calendar to 1850. Imagine a court where Donald picks every single justice.
#30
Old 07-05-2018, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by BobLibDem View Post
I'm surprised this hasn't happened yet. A conservative with 4 bullets could reset the calendar to 1850. Imagine a court where Donald picks every single justice.
Yet another argument for limiting magazine capacity.

Regards,
Shodan
#31
Old 07-05-2018, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by BobLibDem View Post
I'm surprised this hasn't happened yet. A conservative with 4 bullets could reset the calendar to 1850. Imagine a court where Donald picks every single justice.
Perhaps we're better people than you give us credit for. Or perhaps we realize that natural causes stand a pretty good chance of resolving the issue for us, at least in the case of the octogenarians.
#32
Old 07-05-2018, 11:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Yet another argument for limiting magazine capacity.

Regards,
Shodan
When all semi-automatics are outlawed, all would-be assassins will have 6-shooters.
#33
Old 07-06-2018, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
This is, I think, the outcome of the midterm elections the Dems are hoping for (that they retake the Senate, as well as the House but that's immaterial to the issue of judicial confirmations). If they do so, and by some miracle Kennedy's SCOTUS seat is still unfilled, do you think they intend to confirm any of the conservative candidates on Trump's list? My impression is that they do not.
It's possible. But Chuck Schumer hasn't made any of the sort of silly categorical statements that McConnell did during The Great Garland Delay ("we will not vote on any nominee submitted by this administration" etc.) so it's also possible that they would. That said, despite his rhetoric I assumed McConnell's endgame was to force Obama to submit an even more centrist nominee than Garland back then, rather than to take the rather astonishingly bold step of actually refusing to confirm anyone.

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 07-06-2018 at 09:57 AM.
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