The risk created by last month’s death of Justice Antonin Scalia became a reality Tuesday when the Supreme Court deadlocked in a bankruptcy case that had been pending since the first day of the term last October.
Chief Justice John Roberts read the one-sentence verdict, which could be repeated many times before a replacement for Scalia overcomes a similar deadlock between President Obama and Senate Republicans: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.”
The case was one of the high court’s least noticed — a bankruptcy dispute between a Missouri bank and a development company that defaulted on its loans. The company was owned by two couples, and the wives filed suit, claiming discrimination for being required to guarantee their spouses’ loans.
The justices clearly were divided in the case, as evidenced by the length of time it took to issue a decision. By the time Scalia died Feb. 13, the case had been under review for more than four months — an indication of a close decision with one or more dissents.
Left without Scalia’s vote, the justices had to ditch all the opinions, concurrences and dissents they may have been writing and, in essence, throw up their hands.
As a result, the Community Bank of Raymore emerges victorious over the two wives, Valerie Hawkins and Janice Patterson, by virtue of the earlier decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.
SOURCE: Richard Wolf