As Washington prepares for battle over Justice Scalia’s replacement, his impact is felt in Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 15, 2016) – As lawmakers from Indiana to Washington set their battle lines, two days after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, the impact he left on Hoosiers will be felt for years to come.

Perhaps most controversial was his 2008 vote upholding Indiana’s voter ID law.

“The law should be upheld because its overall burden is minimal and justified,” Scalia wrote in an opinion. “The burden of acquiring, possessing and showing a free photo identification is simply not severe…”

David Orentlicher, a law professor at IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said Scalia will be remembered for his writings rooted in the U.S. Constitution.

“He also was important in terms of protecting criminal defendants rights in a couple areas,” Orentlicher said.

To that, Scalia was in the minority when the high court ruled that judges can deny a defendant’s right ot defend themselves when taking into account their mental capacity.

The Indiana case centered on Ahmad Edwards, a schizophrenic Hoosier who shot a department store security officer in downtown Indianapolis, and wanted to defend himself in court.

In the dissenting opinion Scalia wrote, “Until today, the right of self-representation has been accorded the same respect as other constitutional guarantees.”

Now Washington is preparing for a big battle over Scalia’s replacement.

“It’s called delay, delay, delay,” Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Saturday night during the GOP debate.

Republicans are promising to block any nominee from President Obama.

In a statement, Sen. Dan Coats (R-Indiana) said:

“Our country is in the middle of a highly consequential presidential election.  The American people should determine their next Supreme Court justice by their votes in November. I believe our nation will be best served by a justice who holds the Constitution in the same high regard as Justice Scalia did throughout his distinguished tenure on the Supreme Court.”

“Well given the history of what the Senate has done to push back on the president’s nominees, it’s looking like a tough road,” Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indiana) said.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) added in a statement:

“The Supreme Court plays an important role in our democracy, and part of our job as Senators is to review, debate, and vote on judicial nominations, including Supreme Court nominees. This is a responsibility I take very seriously, and the Senate should fulfill its constitutional duty.”

Left looming are a number of key issues before the court impacting Hoosiers, including abortion, religious freedom in the Affordable Care Act and immigration.

A number of names are being floated as potential nominees, including a Hoosier native. The New York Times has named Jane Kelly as a potential, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, who was born and raised in Greencastle.

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