It could not have come at a worse time — the sudden death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. When it comes to the Second Amendment — gun rights — Scalia was the best friend we sportsmen had. With 10 months left in his presidency, Barack Obama will now attempt to replace the conservative Scalia with a new justice, whose views are more in step with his liberal social agenda.

Since his nomination to the court by the late President Reagan in 1986, Justice Scalia championed the view that the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted according to the intent of those who wrote it, not according to shifting social conventions or judicial preferences. The Constitution, Justice Scalia once said, “means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”

Most of us pay little attention to the makeup of the highest court in the land, but in many ways, the U.S. Supreme Court impacts our society and our lives more than decisions made at the White House. A perfect example is the High Court’s astonishing ruling that government, indeed, can mandate that U.S. citizens purchase health insurance!

Justice Scalia, a conservative jurist and a hunter himself, would have been the man who could have run interference against inevitable attempts by President Obama or other anti-gun politicians to legislate away our Second Amendment rights.

So where do we go from here?

The big question is: Will President Obama be allowed, in the final year of his presidency, to appoint a liberal successor to Scalia and thereby drastically alter the balance of the High Court for years to come?

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Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz insists that the race for the presidency should become a referendum on who appoints Scalia’s successor, President Obama or his successor. Cruz has a good point, especially to those of us who value our constitutional right to bear arms.

No matter how you slice it, Obama, in his heart of hearts, is a doctrinaire proponent of national gun confiscation modeled after the Australian approach. Without question, he will soon nominate a candidate to replace Justice Scalia on the High Court, knowing full well that this opportunity represents a historic moment for him in the context of his presidential legacy.

The same can be said of the Republican majority in the U. S. Senate. Will the GOP senators use their congressional authority to postpone this critical judicial appointment until after the Presidential election? There is ample precedent for this. When the shoe was on the other foot, Senate Democrats on more than one occasion never hesitated to obstruct the appointments of conservative jurists to the High Court. Years back, when Vice President Biden was a U.S. Senator and the sitting president was a lame-duck Republican, Biden urged his Senate colleagues to postpone the vote on a conservative Supreme Court nominee until after the election.

As we are learning, Justice Scalia was in life a historically significant figure than many of us may have appreciated. He represented a slender thread of sanity in a society run amok, and now he is gone.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors.” His e-mail address is [email protected] . He has two books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” and his latest, “Backtrack.”


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