Life is fragile. Antonin Scalia died in his sleep. Let me begin by telling his family I feel terrible for them. Antonin Scalia was a principled person. He and many of you reading this column may not have agreed on many of the issues that came before the Supreme Court, but he did attempt to help us understand the importance of having consistent laws. His colleague on the court and one of my heroines, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaks highly of him as a human being so I can only assume he was a good person. My condolences.
I feel so guilty, however, because after a nanosecond of shock at the news I was thinking five to four could soon be 4 to 4. Those voting in favor of my daughters' right to make their own reproductive decisions could become the majority on the court. That is, IF Obama can succeed in appointing another justice However, the Republicans have pledged to block any replacement even before Scalia was in his grave. So much for a moment of respect. IF the Republicans succeed in blocking an Obama nomination . many cases will be in limbo until the next president is elected. This makes electing a democrat all the more important for those in their reproductive years.
Even though I disagree with Scalia's ideas on major social issues of our times, I think he deserves a lot more from his legislative colleagues and from me, than merely seeing his death as a political opportunity. Finding the balance between the rule of law and compassion is a task humans have been struggling with at least since Biblical times. King Solomon, the King of Israel, struggled to be wise and just when two women both claimed a baby as theirs. He gave the baby to the one who did not want it divided in half. Solomon knew sometimes what may seem fair logically (to divide the desired object in half) is destructive in the case of the disputed baby. As an originalist who believed the Constitution should bind contemporary judges, Justice Scalia always chose what he saw as the logical way. However, the balance between justice and mercy is rarely clear.
I suspect the Republicans will keep their word and block President Obama from making a nomination to the Supreme Court. This makes the election of Hillary Clinton all the more important. One vote matters. And in this case it is a supreme court justice's vote that will allow those who might be affected by, say the Zika virus, if it spreads in the US, to decide what they will do about the pregnancy that might lead to a baby with microcephaly. Our country has been notorious for requiring women, however unwilling, to have babies and then refusing to help them after the birth. No guarantees of maternity leave, no supplementary income, no sick leave, no money to help with services if the child has challenges or disabilities.
For me, reproductive choice is no longer my own personal body issue, as I am past the reproductive years, but young women are not.They need to think long and hard about who will control choices that will influence the rest of their lives. I certainly am thinking of them. Women need the option of aborting for whatever their personal reasons might be.
Of course abortion should never be imposed on a woman, whatever the circumstances of her pregnancy. Freedom of religion is freedom of thought. I want a justice who will protect my right to think for myself. If the Republicans succeed in stopping Obama from appointing a successor to Scalia, the resulting tie votes will leave many in limbo.
Even if Obama is lucky enough to make the appointment, Scalia's sudden death points to the importance of electing a president who will appoint a justice who will not be unduly partisan and will uphold the hard-won rights in our society--reproductive freedom, gay rights, affirmative action, and others.
I do not wish illness or death on any of the current justices, but fate might have other plans. Hillary has been steadfast in supporting women's right . She is the safe choice for women who want choice and those who believe the government should not be in our bedrooms or in our minds.