Peter Dreier, American Prospect:
If Democrats take back the Senate as well as the White House, a Democratic president could replace not only Scalia but also fill two and possibly three other Supreme Court seats likely be vacated in the next few years.
Election watchers believe that there is a reasonable chance that the Democrats can gain four seats and take back the Senate. (Republicans currently have a 54-46 Senate majority. If Democrats win the White House and gain four Senate seats, they control the Senate because the vice president breaks a 50-50 tie.) A more liberal court could overturn Citizens United, restore voting rights and workers’ rights, protect women’s right to abortion, allow the president to address climate change, keep affirmative action in jobs and education, and deliver many other important rulings.
In fact, Scalia’s death will have immediate consequences on pending court decisions, because rulings that would have been decided by 5-4 margins will now end up as 4-4 ties, which means that the lower courts’ rulings will stand. Labor union leaders and allies were bracing for the court to cast an anti-union vote in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which would have ended public sector unions’ ability to require employees to pay fees to cover the costs of collective bargaining, even if the workers benefited from these activities. Such a ruling would have been devastating to the labor movement, but now the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which favored the unions, will stand.