While the nomination battle for Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat has just begun, the repercussions of his death on the Supreme Court will be immediate.
The absence of Scalia, who died from natural causes at a hunting ranch in Texas on Saturday, has left the Supreme Court split with four Democratic and Republican appointees each.
Now a number of pending cases on abortion, immigration and affirmative action, among others, could be left with a 4-4 tie with the loss of conservative Scalia tipping the majority.
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Justice Antonin Scalia’s death will have an immediate impact on Supreme Court cases involving abortion, immigration and affirmative action, among others
The absence of Scalia, who died from natural causes at a hunting ranch in Texas on Saturday, now leaves the Supreme Court (pictured) split with four Democratic and Republican appointees each
In some cases a tie will merely leave in place decisions that have already been set by lower courts.
This would be the case in Whole Women’s Health v Cole, upholding a Texas law that has closed half of the state’s abortion clinics in the last three years.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state’s regulations, but a tie in the Supreme Court would be a blow to anti-abortion advocates hoping for a broader ruling that could set the precedent for restrictions across the country.
A 4-4 tie would also uphold the federal court’s ban on Obama’s 2014 executive action to protect four million undocumented immigrants from deportation.
But it would not allow the Court to put broader limits on the authority of the president, a possibility they discussed in January, according to Bloomberg.
Unlike with the abortion and immigration cases, Scalia’s absence will make a tie impossible in an upcoming affirmative action decision.
In some cases a tie will merely leave in place decision already set by lower courts, including a Texas law that has closed half of the state’s abortion clinics in the last three years
Justice Elena Kagan has already recused herself from Fisher v Texas, as she previously worked on it as the solicitor general.
A federal appeals court upheld affirmative action in admissions at the University of Texas, meaning the decision will either be upheld or reversed depending on Justice Anthony Kennedy’s swing vote.
Conservatives were also hoping Scalia’s vote would overturn the lower court ruling in Evenwell v Abbott, a redistricting case that counts all residents, rather than only eligible voters, when drawing legislative districts, according to Vox.
Scalia’s absence will also most likely maintain a lower court ruling in favor of an Obamacare accommodation for religious nonprofits who object to covering birth control.
A private vote among the justices had already been cast in the affirmative action and redistricting cases, but they do not count until the opinion is released.