The untimely death of Atonin Scalia shocked people across the country. Justice Scalia served a long and notable term as a leading constitutional jurist. The immediate impact on the frothy political scene is clear. President Obama could effectively change the nature of the court which for the past few decades has had 5 of the 9 justices appointed by Republican Presidents. Should the Republicans block an appointment then they would leave the Court split 4-4 along ideological lines and essentially leave the decisions of the (heavily Obama appointed) lower courts judge’s decisions in place.
While the Supreme Court hasn’t had too many cases that directly effect the real estate industry they did uphold the determination that the “disparate impact” of supposedly unintentional discrimination falls under the Fair Housing Act of 1968. While Justice Scalia was originally expected to vote in favor of upholding the determination he eventually voted with the dissenting Justices. Although in this case Scalia’s change of vote ended up not having an impact, the assumption that Scalia could be a swing vote had a huge impact on a number of other major decisions made by the court.
While the immediate impact is questionable there will undoubtedly be new issues coming up in the near future – either on the docket now or potentially forced in during the next 12 months – that could impact the real estate market as well as related issues.