The death of Justice Antonin Scalia has thrown this nation into a political turmoil. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately said, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” Not to be outdone, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid didn’t let any time pass before he had a statement of his own. “It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat,” he said. “Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.” Prominent liberal pundits actually celebrated Scalia’s death, while conservatives wondered if there was any foul play in his death. If you think the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore was politically touchy, you better fasten your seat belts for the fight that will inevitably occur after Scalia’s death.
It doesn’t have to be with this way.
Imagine if the American people had more of a role in how our nation is governed. Imagine if there was more accountability for both our members of Congress and the Supreme Court. Luckily, the Constitution’s Article V has a provision where all this could be possible and more.
That is why the people must invoke our Article V constitutional rights to call a convention to amend the Constitution to solve so many of the problems facing us today, perhaps including the battle we face now to replace Justice Scalia on the Court. We don’t have a list of constitutional amendments that we’d like to see pushed through. The states and their delegates will be able to decide what kind of specific changes would limit the power, jurisdiction, and scope of the federal government. However, one possible change I’ve heard discussed as I go around this nation is placing term limits on members of Congress and justices on the Supreme Court. This allows the people to rule themselves more frequently and more consistently.
In fact, one of Justice Scalia’s most recent dissents from last summer reveals his wit, his way with words, and his conviction that our Constitution should guide everything our government does. In King v. Burwell, the case in which the majority upheld a regulatory rewrite completely contradictory to the letter of the ObamaCare law, Justice Scalia scathingly dissented:
“Just ponder the significance of the Court’s decision to take matters into its own hands. The Court’s revision of the law authorizes the Internal Revenue Service to spend tens of billions of dollars every year… . It affects the price of insurance for millions of Americans. …
“So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.
“Perhaps the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will attain the enduring status of the Social Security Act or the Taft-Hartley Act; perhaps not. But this Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years. … And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.”
This quote and case perfectly captures the dangers when our bureaucracy, Congress, White House, and – yes – even the Supreme Court forget about their constitutional limits intended to protect our freedom and liberty.
Justice Scalia stood firm on the principle that our Constitution proscribes the methods by which the people may implement their own change. If something was not in the Constitution, people may urge their political representatives to pass laws. If someone didn’t like something in the Constitution, it allowed the people to amend that Constitution. It’s as simple as that. Yes, the processes may be complex and it may be difficult – but it is certainly possible.
Justice Scalia intelligently, humorously, and courageously stood up for the Constitution for decades. Now that he’s gone, it’s up to us to do it.