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Could Scalia's Absence Reshape California Politics?

Wikipedia / Creative Commons
 

Wikipedia / Creative Commons

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.

In the Friedrichs case, the lower court sided with the teachers union. So 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.