Next appointee to U.S. Supreme Court could shift balance of power

The death of a Supreme Court Justice has quickly sparked a political battle. 79 year old Antonin Scalia died in his sleep during a visit to Texas. Scalia was the leading conservative voice on the high court, which is politically split 5-4. The next Justice could shift the balance of power and that’s why finding a replacement is expected to be a big issue this election year. “For almost 30 years, Justice Scalia was a larger than life presence on the bench,” says President Barak Obama. Tonight, people around the country are remembering the 79 year old Justice and his sharp legal mind. Former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. “You’re only 8-10 feet away from the dais when you stand at the podium, and I’ll never forget in my first argument as justice Scalia leaned towards me with those dark eyes and bushy eyebrows,” says McKenna. “I thought I was going to burst into flames on the spot.” Although Justice Scalia was well known for his conservative views, McKenna says the Justice didn’t just make decisions based on politics. “Justice Scalia felt very strongly that we should respect the constitution as it was written. The judges should not rewrite it through their decisions.” Many say one of Scalia’s greatest legacies will be his opinions on the issue of gun rights. “He did author the 2008 Heller ruling, which affirmed that the Second Amendment does protect individual civil right to keep and bear arms,” says Dave Workman, with the Second Amendment Foundation. He says gun owners will be hoping someone with similar values takes Scalia’s seat on the bench. “They’ve got a lot at stake and so does the country, we're talking about one-tenth of the Bill of Rights here.” Many Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say the next president should be the one to select the next nominee. But tonight, President Obama is making it clear he doesn’t want to wait. “I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. There will be plenty of time for me to do so.” The president also saying that when he names a nominee, he hopes the Republican-led Senate will fulfill its responsibility and give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote.