Washington Gadfly

Liberal Supreme Court Justice Says Scalia Replacement Can Wait

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
Font Size:

Democrats now have yet another credibility problem with their argument that the GOP refusal to consider any Barack Obama replacement for the late Antonin Scalia is a racist affront to truth, justice and the American way.

Liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Thursday indicated there is no urgency to replace Scalia because 5-4 decisions are uncommon. Of course, the horrific prospect of 4-4 ties with one seat vacant is a key Democratic talking point about the dire need to seat a ninth justice.

“We’ll miss him, but we’ll do our work,” Breyer told NBC News Justice Department justice correspondent Pete Williams at the Newseum in Washington. “The cases come along. Contrary to what a lot of people think, half of our cases are unanimous. The number of 5-4 cases in a typical year is around 20 percent.”

Breyer shrugged off Williams’ contention that Scalia’s seat could remain vacant for a long time. “That is your determination.”

The Bill Clinton appointee also dodged a question that he could have used to back Democrats’ argument that the GOP is legally obligated to consider Obama’s selection. Asked by an audience member to define the constitutional provision that the Senate “advise and consent” on nominees he said, “I thought there couldn’t be a question that would be more controversial at this very moment than the one that was asked before, but you’ve come up with it.”

Welcome to a new feature for this column, “Hell Freezes Over.” It will take note when somebody in Washington has enough integrity to break ranks without intense public pressure or the prospect of personal or political gain.

Breyer did that on Thursday.