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Supreme Court Battle Will Put Democratic Candidates' Ideas To The Test

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 19/02/2016 Jason Linkins

So, that happened. With the passing of Antonin Scalia, President Barack Obama now faces the challenge of getting a new Supreme Court justice appointed in spite of Senate Republicans' intransigence. For the Democrats campaigning to be Obama's successor, the president's battle may have significant ripple effects on their own fortunes, as their competing visions of how they'll "get stuff done" get put to a real-world test.  

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have each described what kinds of policies they'd pursue as president. Sanders' are considerably more ambitious than Clinton's, but both candidates face the same obstacle -- a legislature that will likely be in the control of Republicans, who'll be in no mood to help enact liberal policies. 

Clinton's response to this challenge has been to suggest that her years of experience give her an advantage in making compromises. She's got the skill set, she argues, that will allow her to build on and improve the policy changes of the Obama years.

But appointing a Supreme Court justice is no mere incremental change. Should that task fall to the next president, it will have far-reaching and high-stakes ramifications that will alter the court's trajectory for years. Opportunities for deal-making with a GOP-led Senate will be in short supply, even to a deft operator like Clinton.

Sanders, meanwhile, is going to want to watch Obama's actions pretty closely as well. With little genuine leverage at his disposal, the president may have to hope that he can muster enough grassroots pressure and public shame to actually get Scalia's replacement to the bench.

"Grassroots pressure and public shame" is not the worst description of Sanders' entire operating theory of his presidency. If Obama fails in the effort, it could bring Sanders' sky-high plans for political revolution back down to earth in a hurry.

Also on this week's podcast, Jamie Raskin -- a Maryland state senator and American University law professor who's gotten into the crowded Democratic primary to replace Rep. Chris Van Hollen in Maryland's 8th District -- joins us to make his case for why he ought to get the nomination over some well-funded but less experienced opponents. 

Meanwhile, we've been talking on this show about the dangers to the economy posed by "too big to fail" banks, and we have some good news to report: Our overwhelmingly sound arguments have convinced Neel Kashkari, former bailout czar and current president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, to join us. 

Finally, as the Democratic contest heads to South Carolina, we'll discuss how the race has suddenly become a thunderous battle to win over black voters, and which candidate has the edge and why.

"So, That Happened" is hosted by Jason Linkins, Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney. Joining them this week are Huffington Post reporters Julia Craven, Samantha Lachman and Shahien Nasiripour.

This podcast was produced, edited and engineered by Christine Conetta.

To listen to this podcast later, download our show on iTunes. While you're there, please subscribe to, rate and review our show. You can check out other HuffPost podcasts here.

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