On February 20, 2016 a funeral service was held for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia is mourned by the nation and The Arc. Justice Scalia served on the Supreme Court for nearly 30 years and his death leaves the Court with only eight Justices, rather than nine. The process for appointing a new Justice is clear in the Constitution. The “Appointments Clause” (Article II, Section 2, clause 2) states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the supreme Court.”
Issues important to people with disabilities often come before the U.S. Supreme Court. They span such important concerns as rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the right to fair, non-discriminatory treatment in health care settings, and the death penalty. In fact, The Arc has submitted an amicus brief in a death penalty case, Ortiz v. United States, involving an individual with intellectual disability, in which the Court has not yet decided whether to hear arguments. Due to the Supreme Court’s important role as final decision maker in cases involving laws of Congress and interpreting the Constitution, it is important that the Court be fully functioning. The Arc will be observing the appointment and confirmation process with great interest.