Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Ted Strickland thinks Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia death was pretty convenient.
Strickland, a former Ohio governor, was giving a speech at an AFL-CIO town hall called “Working For Our Future: Young Worker Townhall” in Cleveland Monday, when he said Scalia’s death “happened at a good time,” to a chorus of laughter and applause.
“My friends, a lot of average citizens out there don’t understand the importance of that court [Supreme Court]. I mean the death of Scalia saved labor from a terrible decision,” Strickland said to the crowd.
“It happened at a good time, because once that decision had been made it would have been tough to reverse it,” Strickland said.
The Strickland campaign dodged repeated questions regarding the comments Wednesday. After multiple emails and calls, a campaign volunteer first told The Daily Caller News Foundation she would attempt to get an answer. When TheDCNF called again, the volunteer stated that “everyone is in a meeting.” When asked if the entire press team was in the meeting, the volunteer responded, “yes, and it’s a longer meeting.”
Strickland released a statement to Talking Points Memo Wednesday saying the comment “was an insensitive remark, and I apologize.”
Strickland’s comments stem from a Supreme Court case that was before Scalia’s death. Ten public school teachers argued before the Supreme Court in January that mandatory union payments violated their constitutional right to free speech. The Supreme Court was likely to vote 5-4 in favor of the teachers, but with Scalia’s death, the Court split 4-4.
Without a majority decision, the Supreme Court defaults to the lower court’s ruling. The lower court upheld mandatory union dues, resulting in a huge victory for organized labor. Had Scalia been alive, a 5-4 ruling that mandatory union dues were unconstitutional would have been a big blow to organized labor, weakening public sector unions by diminishing financial resources.
Strickland is currently in a battle with Republican incumbent Sen. Rob Portman. According to Cleveland.com, the race for Ohio’s Senate seat may be the costliest in state history, with over $43 million spent by the campaigns and outside groups.
Strickland recently lost the support from some of Ohio’s largest labor unions, which have chosen to support the incumbent senator. Portman recently received the endorsements of the United Mine Workers, the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, the International Union of Operating Engineers local 18, and the Ohio Teamsters.
The Portman campaign did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
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