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Could Justice Scalia’s Death Reshape California Politics?

Photo credit: Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia waits during an introduction before speaking at the University of Minnesota as part of the law school's Stein Lecture series in Minneapolis, Oct. 20, 2015.


Sam Popkin, author, "The Candidate: What It Takes to Win - and Hold - The White House"

Glenn Smith, professor of constitutional law, California Western School of Law


The sudden death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia could have a major impact on California politics.

The court heard oral arguments this term in the Friedrichs case, which examines whether the California Teachers Association can require nonmembers to pay fees.

Based on oral arguments, many court watchers thought the justices would vote 5-to-4 against the union. If Scalia's death leaves a 4-4 split, the court would have to either delay the case until a new justice is confirmed — or let the lower court ruling stand.

Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler points out the lower court sided with the teachers union.

"And so you can see here that the death of Justice Scalia has the potential to turn this union case — and by extension the powerful union politics in California — completely upside down."

Another case Californians are watching involves President Obama's executive actions on immigration. If the Supreme Court deadlocks on that case, the states challenging the president would win — and his executive orders would be declared unconstitutional.

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