WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death transformed the Supreme Court’s term, shifted power to its liberal wing and started a transition that will be greatly affected by who wins the presidency.
It was a term unusual in other ways, too. Justice Clarence Thomas broke a 10-year silence following his good friend’s death to ask questions during an oral argument. Senate Republicans shunned any action on President Barack Obama’s nominee to restore the court to its full nine-member strength. And four cases ended in 4-4 ties.
Major decisions underscoring abortion rights and constraining corruption prosecutions of public officials would have come out the same way had Scalia remained on the court. But his death led directly to an unexpected majority to uphold race-conscious college admissions policies.