The absence of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made a big difference in the last session of the high court. That's according to ISU scholar Meghan Leonard. Leonard told Charlie Schlenker not only were the four to four cases a big deal, but some of the 5-3 decisions would have had different emphasis if Scalia were there.
The death of not only affected the decisions handed down in the just completed term of the court, it is shifting what will happen next year too. Leonard said the court has not picked chosen many, if any, blockbuster cases to hear next term.
"They don't want to pick cases that are going to be 4-4 ties if they don't know that they are going to have a ninth justice or not. Really, they don't want to put themselves into the position of taking what could be really important issues and then essentially not being able to do anything with them," said Leonard.
And Leonard said it is also likely the Supreme Court will not get a new justice confirmed in all of next year.
"I'm not sure we'll see anybody nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court until we have actually a President and a Senate of the same party. So, we could go for a couple years or through the 2018 elections until we something like that happen," said Leonard.
Leonard said she believes there is no way that Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland will ever be confirmed. Leonard said it would be too big a political loss for the Republican party to act on Garland's nomination.
Scalia was a very witty and learned justice, though his sarcasm could rub colleagues the wrong way. Leonard says there was also an impact on the dynamic of the court from Scalia's absent voice.