Bryan Fischer Needs to Make Up His Mind

One of my guilty pleasures is listening to Focal Point, the AM talk-radio show of famed anger-bear Bryan Fischer, a man so far right that even the AFA tried to distance itself from him.

In yesterday’s episode (which you can find at the show archive under Feb. 15, 2016, Hour 1), he made several points about Antonin Scalia, the recently-deceased Supreme Court justice who was so far to the right that even Fischer approved of him.

That Scalia is an irreplaceable genius who interpreted the constitution as the founders would have wanted.

That since Obama is in a position to nominate his replacement, the very future of our republic hangs by a thread. (Update, Feb. 17: See this column for a text version of Fischer’s apocalyptic fears.)

That the Supreme Court does not make law: it writes opinions. And while everyone’s entitled to an opinion, and while this opinion may be binding on the parties named in the suit, the rest of us are under no obligation to listen to them.

SCOTUS-JustYourOpinionMan

That the Senate still has to confirm anyone Obama nominates, and Mitch McConnell is just too spineless to stand up to القاعدة‎ the Base, those loyal AFA listeners who will demand that the Senate turn down anyone Obama nominates.

That Congress could simply pass a law reducing the number of Supreme Court justices, so that there’s no vacancy to be filled.

So for one thing, I’m sure that Obama doesn’t see this Republican-controlled Congress as a thread, but rather as a major roadblock.

For another thing, somehow the Supreme Court is both trivial, a constitutional afterthought that no one needs to pay attention to, but also so vitally important that a single Justice’s absence can spell the ruin of the nation. Maybe someone can call Fischer up and ask him to explain.

Now, I know that I tend to be pretty snarky here, but in this case, I’ve tried to represent Fischer’s views fairly, in a way that he would agree with. It’s just that he’s a walking, talking Poe. If anyone doubts me, feel free to listen to the show and correct me.

After Scalia

You’ve probably heard that Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia passed away of natural causes a few days ago. I wish his friends and family solace in this difficult time.

But setting that aside, I’m glad he’s off the court. From Lawrence v. Texas to Obergefell v. Hodges to many others, he did more to fight the advance of civil rights in this country than anyone else on the court, or indeed anyone else I can think of.

And now, of course, there’s a storm of speculation in the opiniosphere: will Obama nominate a replacement? (Yes. That’s his job.) Should he leave it to the next president? (No, that would be not doing his job.)

Will the Senate block his nominee? Yes. That’s what this Congress does: block Obama. Isn’t there a tradition of not nominating SCOTUS replacements in an election year? No, that’s just something Republican senators made up so they wouldn’t have to do their job.

Will Obama nominate a liberal, or a moderate? Will Mitch McConnell refuse to let the issue come to the floor? Those are interesting questions, and the pundits are applying the full force of their three-dimensional-chess-playing brains to them, because there are so many interesting ways this could go, so many ways the actors could position themselves. Obama gets to pick a nominee. The Senate can drag its feet on the confirmation. But the longer the position isn’t filled, the more pressure there will be on the Senate to do so. And it could be a big issue in October, at the height of election season.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. But one thing I’m fairly certain of: Scalia’s replacement will be more liberal than him. He or she would pretty much have to be, unless Obama somehow nominates Bryan Fischer or the reanimated corpse of Atilla the Hun.

And that in turn means that some number of cases that would have been 5-4 decisions with Scalia’s vote will become 5-4 the other way. And maybe this country can move forward.