Sunday Morning Rising

High Tunnel

High Tunnel

Lettuce and basil germinated in the tray planted last week, reminding me of why I garden.

It is a chance to witness life as cold sets in for one last spell. Soon winter will turn to spring. I can’t wait. For now, suffice it that the seedlings rise to face the sun through a bedroom window.

The emergence of hearty weeds among my seedlings was unexpected and easy to remedy. We all have weeds growing in our garden, even when it is planted a couple of months before last frost. I continue to pluck them out to make room for what I intended.

The death of Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia yesterday was unexpected. It sparked conversations in social media, which for practical purposes includes formal news organizations. Scalia was quail hunting at an exclusive ranch in West Texas — a place where Mick Jagger and the Dixie Chicks have hung out. The event ramped up my understanding of opinions and attitudes regarding the meaning of Scalia’s legacy and the process of choosing a replacement.

By all accounts, Scalia’s was a brilliant if acerbic legal mind.

The Congress is in recess, so President Obama has the option to make a recess appointment. That would be the cleanest way to go, with the selected associate justice serving until the end of the next session. Why would Obama forego the possibility of a lifetime appointment? As he indicated in his remarks on Scalia’s passing, he won’t. However, I pulled a Scalia and began with the text of the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. There is no time limit on gaining the consent of the U.S. Senate. They have given their advice already: “leave the position open until the next president is sworn in.”

When a nominee is presented to and blocked by the Senate, and if the Supreme Court divides evenly by ideology, the situation would contain both good and bad. There is no guarantee justices will divide by ideology. If they do, the powder keg that is the Supreme Court docket this session would sustain lower court decisions. Winners would include labor (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association) and losers would include the TEA Party (Evenwel v. Abbott; Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting), undocumented immigrants (US v. Texas) and women’s reproductive rights (Women’s Whole Health v. Hellerstedt; Zubik v. Burwell). It seems too early to say all of this will actually happen.

With Scalia deceased, three remaining Supreme Court justices will turn age 80 by the end of the next presidential term. The stakes in the 2016 presidential election could not be higher. Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee Anthony Kennedy was appointed in February of Reagan’s last year in office, so there is precedent for Obama. Precedent means little in the toxic political environment in which we live.

Life is never as simple as germinating seeds rising toward the sun on a Sunday morning. There will always be weeds in the garden, and so it is with yesterday’s news as Scalia was plucked out by God’s hand.

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