The Republican SCOTUS gift

Mark Segal

From Philadelphia Gay News: OK liberals, the Republicans, in their "wisdom" have said they won't consider President Obama's nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. By taking such an approach, the GOP has handed liberals a golden opportunity - and shown their absolute stupidity, as they trip all over each other to enter the clown car and be the first to utter their obstructionism.

Court experts, listen up: There are 13 appellate court districts in the United States and only four of the 13 are considered conservative, meaning that nine - or two-thirds - are comprised of liberal-leaning judges. When an appellate court rules, their position becomes the law of the land, unless SCOTUS agrees to hear, and then overturns, the case. And, if the court agrees to hear a case, and is split four-four - because of Scalia's vacancy - the appellate court ruling stands.

To make matters worse for Republicans, the court is due to rule this term on issues related to abortion, unions and even climate control. And in those cases, the chances are four-four now for what conservatives would say are liberal rulings. They will become the law of the land. Here's my favorite case, in which everyone expects a four-four ruling: whether President Obama's executive order allowing 5-million illegal immigrants to stay in the United States can stand, meaning Republicans have most likely created their worst fear. (I love it when Republicans shoot themselves in the foot.) At this rate, the odds are stacked for liberals by a two-thirds majority. And let's take it even a step further.

Bernie Sanders, or even Donald Trump - both of whom strongly believe in campaign-finance reform and in overturning the SCOTUS ruling on Citizens United that allowed dirty money into political campaigns - could either file a case in a sympathetic state court and ask for an emergency hearing that the Citizens United ruling has irrefutably harmed their campaigns and needs to be overruled. On appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, there would be another four-four tie that would leave in place any state Supreme Court decision that prohibits corporate money in campaigns.

So if I were the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, Lambda Legal or any other organization considered liberal by conservative Republicans, I'd start filing those briefs now.

By rushing to refuse to hear any Supreme Court nominee, no matter his or her abilities - the reality is that Republicans have actually helped President Obama, who they're so eager to insult, as well as his political allies. Thank you, Republicans, for this great gift. And please keep falling all over yourselves.

Mark Segal is the nation's most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His best selling memoir "And Then I Danced, Traveling The Road To LGBT Equality," is available online or at your favorite bookseller. 

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