The most immediate implications involve the presidential election. President Obama of course has the power to nominate a successor, with the consent of the Senate. In the ordinary course, because the opening was unexpected, the nomination would not be forthcoming for a couple of months and then the confirmation process would take several more months.
Theoretically, that process could conclude before the November election. But realistically, it cannot absent essentially a consensus nominee – and probably not even then, given the stakes. A Democratic president would replace a leading conservative vote on a closely divided Court. The Republican Senate will not permit such a consequential nomination – which would radically shift the balance of ideological power on the Court – to go forward.
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