In fact, it is simply the first major battle in a larger war over the future of the Court and our nation. In cases that were 5-4, with Scalia in the majority with other conservative justices, those cases may well now be 4-4. In such a tie, the Court can dismiss the case, leaving the lower court ruling standing and setting no precedent, or it might hold the case for a future justice to join the Court, or decide the case in a way which ducks the important issues.
And Scalia’s absence in future years could matter on issues not currently before the Court but likely to return, from gun rights to campaign finance reform to voting rights. Especially if Obama is able to nominate a jurist who would vote like his other nominees, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, things could shift rather dramatically.
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