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Legal Roundtable: ‘Scalia's death has made people think of how undemocratic the Supreme Court is’

Wikimedia Commons
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in 2010

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death raises many issues. Among them are the possibility of 4-4 decisions until the vacancy is filled and the likelihood of President Obama’s appointment of a successor to get Senate confirmation.

On Monday’s monthly Legal Roundtable a panel of legal experts joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to discuss this and other issues.

The guests were:

  • Bill Freivogel, professor in the school of journalism at Southern Illinois University -  Carbondale;
  • Mark Smith, associate vice chancellor and director of the Career Center at Washington University;
  • Jared Boyd, chief of staff and counsel at the City of St. Louis Treasurer’s Office and president of the Mound City Bar Association

Freivogel said that while Scalia was a great legal thinker, he will likely be remembered for being “on the wrong side of history,” especially about women’s rights, same-sex marriage and school desegregation.

Bill Freivogel, Mark Smith and Jared Boyd discussed pressing legal issues of the day.
Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Bill Freivogel, Mark Smith and Jared Boyd discussed pressing legal issues of the day.

Smith said that Scalia wouldn’t care what side of history he was on. “He would say it wasn’t for the court to make those changes—that’s for the legislature,” he continued.

On a larger level, however, his death has made the Supreme Court a number one issue to keep in mind during the election year.

“Justice Scalia’s death really has made people think about how undemocratic the Supreme Court is,” Boyd said. “It is probably our least democratic institution. If you receive a lifetime appointment, you’ll probably serve 30 years absent poor health. The Supreme Court throughout our history has really led from behind and thwarted civil rights initiatives, populism, wage protections and has been behind the president and the House of Representatives in enacting changes that help people. People really have the opportunity to reexamine the role of the Supreme Court and think about what Scalia’s successor will have the power to do—to be the final arbiter on issues like abortion and birth control. These are people who will be unchecked after they are confirmed by the U.S. Senate.”

Who do you hope will replace Scalia on the Supreme Court?

Other topics of discussion included:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.