The death of the influential conservative Antonin Scalia opens up another front in the upcoming Presidential campaign.
The most vital constitutional decisions in the USA are eventually settled by the nine mighty figures of the Supreme Court of the United States, nattily known as SCOTUS
Structurally, the system of voting is open to a simplistic liberal versus conservative 4-5 split. This makes for highly politicized appointments via the President but with congressional tactics to delay an appointment, an important example of the lame duck theory of a President in his last term of office.(POTUS trying to get the SCOTUS he wants).
This is where we seem to be at the moment
Informed opinions among political commentators are evaluating the process according to game theory. Something like
Obama selects a highly qualified candidate of liberal tendencies. This will swing 4-5 decisions to liberal outcomes. One of the front runners is the high powered Loretta Lynch, attorney general and heroine of the moves that brought justice down on the first group of FIFA reprobates.
Republicans filibuster any appointment, offering a politically useful edge to the Democratic candidate in the upcoming Presidential race. This seems a rare example of a win-win for Obama, because his nominee to SCOTUS will be one that could pull in ethnic votes crucial in a close race.
This offers much scope for further dysfunctional politics in a system already prone to inept reactions and self-induced crises. Arguably, such behaviors have accelerated the further decline in confidence in mainline political figures and the rise of the non-political candidates such asTrump.
Bad, but not as totally flawed as you might think. One analysis suggests that the court is not a simplistic algorithmic mechanism churning out decisions on party lines. That does happen but only in a minority of cases considered.
Unfortunately, these are often of the highest significance
The Bush Gore case is one such example. In the presidential election of 2000, victory was too close to call, and eventually came down to the highly-charged accusations over voting practices in Florida. As multiple recounts and law suits began, SCOTUS felt compelled to step in and voted to end further recounts, a decision handing the Presidency to Bush. The voting 5-4 was along the dreaded party lines.
Get over it, the gleeful Scalia remarked afterwards.