Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told a gathering of court officials in New York that having one unfilled seat on the bench of the nation’s highest court was hampering its ability to do its job, the AP reported Thursday.
The empty seat has already hampered the court’s ability make rulings on vital, controversial issues, and led to some of the most pressing legal questions facing the nation being punted to lower courts.
In one instance, a deadlocked 4-4 decision in a case about mandatory union fees resulted in the lower court’s ruling standing, effectively preserving the right of public-sector unions to collectively bargain.
In a case regarding the contraception mandate in ObamaCare, the Court unanimously chose to send the case back to the lower court to work out a compromise rather than deliver a tied decision.
In both cases, no precedent-setting decision was rendered.
Since Justice Antonin Scalia died in February, Republicans in the Senate have adamantly refused to give a hearing to President Obama’s nominee, guaranteeing that the ninth seat will remain unfilled until the next president nominates someone.
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