It is difficult to quantify the impact on the nation of the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Adored by conservatives/originalists, and reviled by progressives and the “living Constitution” crowd, Scalia was not only arguably the greatest legal mind of his generation, but one of the most brilliant and articulate legal scholars in all of America history. Combining rapier wit with a towering intellect, he shaped the legal thinking of conservatives and liberals alike in the judiciary.
In recent years many of the most controversial rulings handed down by the Supreme Court have come in the form of 5-4 rulings, typically with Justice Anthony Kennedy being the swing vote. The loss of Scalia leaves the Court with eight justices, increasing the likelihood of 4-4 decisions that, rather than establish constitutional law precedent, leave issues unsettled and keep in place lower court rulings.