Atlanta, GA – As everyone knows by now, the election of 2016 is within a few days. (Plus or minus about five hundred, but anyway, its closer than the one in 2020, which is why we are not talking about that one yet, but don’t worry, its coming.) And the issues that are expected to be on the table then are already being aired out.
But a new one is emerging that is rather intriguing. The Supreme Debate. The Supreme Court, that is. Now the Supreme Court has been the focal point of much political jockeying, satire, and hatred in years past. Jackson tried to overrule it, Roosevelt (FDR) tried to stack it and put more justices in, and people are always “hating on” it for this or that.
But be that as it may, the Supreme Court is here, has been since the constitution was written, and is not going anywhere anytime soon. So the issue remains for 2016, for whoever it is that takes the Oval Office then, (Hillary Clinton, or someone who is currently a state dog-catcher) wil have the privilege of being the one who gets to make the appointments as the vacancies, which are certainly coming, emerge.
It may be to some a minor issue who sits on the court, and indeed, in most election years the argument takes a back seat. No presidential election has ever hinged on who the candidate is planning to appoint, if and when one or more of the justices vacate their seats. And this coming race probably will not be much different, either.
But the issue should have some preeminence in the conversation, not least of all because of what the courts have done in recent years. Overturning Roe v. Wade is only part of it. There are all sorts of debates that will be or can be ultimately decided by the Court, and some of them are quite pressing. Is same-sex marriage constitutional? Should private citizens be allowed to give as much money as they want to elections? Should we have to have a license to get a handgun in the city? What about immigration? There are things there that are up for debate in the Court.
There are many issues that could be mentioned, but perhaps one of the most talked about ones will be The Affordable Care Act. (Obamacare.) They ruled before that it was constitutional, but that was basically on a technicality, and while there are cases now in the docket, and soon to come up, it is a well-known fact that often more than one case is often needed to air out all the issues, and it is very possible that if the makeup of the court changes after 2016, they could revisit this and other issues, and possibly overturn previous decisions, which can always lead to exiting headlines.
And the idea of the court being shaken up is not farfetched. It is an aging institution, none of the judges are under sixty, while some have reached their seventies or even eighties. And even if the will is there to carry on, the strength may soon not be.
Yes, it is still a little while until Election, 2016, the winners from 2014 have not even taken their seats yet. But it is not too early to talk about the oncoming Supreme Debate.
Andrew C. Abbott