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Don Walton: Waiting on Bernie now
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Don Walton: Waiting on Bernie now

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Looks like the Big Show is going to make a quick stop here.

Hillary Clinton's active bid for Nebraska's rather small Democratic delegate pool deals the state into the presidential derby.

If Bernie Sanders decides to actively engage Clinton in the Democratic caucus on March 5, Nebraska has a moment in the spotlight.

That happened eight years ago when President Barack Obama, then an Illinois senator, bid for and won Nebraska's brand new presidential caucus. Obama's team saw an opportunity to pile up clumps of delegate votes in small-state caucuses while Clinton was concentrating on big-state primaries in 2008.

No word yet whether Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton might show up during the next three weeks. Chelsea will be in Omaha on Wednesday for a public event at Four Sisters Boutique, 2900 So. 110th Court, at 4 p.m.

Nebraska Republicans wait until May 10 to express themselves at the primary election. Probably too late three months from now, but who knows?

You can see Trump, Cruz, Rubio, maybe even Bush, with the potential for that kind of staying power unless someone unexpectedly begins to run the table.  

Their "debates" are worth watching, although the last one was a lot more food fight than policy discussion.   

                                                          ***

Now that changes everything.

The sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia ramps up the presidential race and demonstrates the dominant role that the Supreme Court has assumed within the constitutional separation of powers as it is practiced today.

Congress is largely dysfunctional and on a mission to make it difficult, and sometimes impossible, for this president to exercise his executive power.

The court has filled the power vacuum with decisions that sometimes toss "stare decisis" right out the window, ignoring judicial precedent and making law through its own split decisions.

So, it's no wonder that suddenly the choice of a Supreme Court justice becomes the overriding domestic issue in the presidential campaign.  

It's a 4-4 deadlock now and that probably puts this court on hold until a new justice is nominated and confirmed.  

Best guess: That's a year from now after a new president is elected and inaugurated and nominates his or her choice because a Republican Senate already has signaled that it is not going to allow this Democratic president to fill this vacancy.

So, now a dysfunctional Congress will have impeded the ability of both of the other branches of the federal government to fully perform. That's running the table. 

It's high drama and grand theater, but it's also a reminder that Congress has broken everything now.

So, the court is stuck at 4-4 for now -- an obvious advantage for the Democratic side on most issues -- and the next president and the next Senate will decide who gets the 5-4 advantage. If the next president and the next Senate majority represent different parties, this power struggle grinds on.

Great spectator sport, but not so good for the country.

You probably can double the amount of money that will be poured into the election now.

And, of course, that amount is virtually unlimited thanks to the power of a court majority that expanded a case that was before it and told us with a straight face that corporations are people and money is speech.  

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Brad Ashford ranked as the sixth most bipartisan member of the House in the latest voting record rankings compiled by Congressional Quarterly.

Ashford, the 2nd District's Democratic congressman, voted with Republicans and against the majority of Democratic House members 28.1 percent of the time.  

"The only way Congress will solve the challenges we face as a country is to compromise and work with people on the other side of the aisle to build consensus," Ashford said.

All four Republcan members of Nebraska's congressional delegation voted with their party 90 percent of the time or more.

                                                   ***

An article in the Chicago Reader offers to trade Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner for Nebraska's Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The Reader offers to throw in a few passes to the Willis Tower skydeck that could be "spread around Nebraska to sweeten the deal."

Uh, probably not a very good deal. Four of the last seven Illinois governors have gone to prison.

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Finishing up:

* Mike Johanns was unanimously confirmed by the Senate as a member of the board of directors of the Millenium Challenge Corporation. The global poverty initiative is a great fit for the former Republican senator and former U.S. secretary of agriculture, who has been personally engaged in efforts to help the people of Africa for a long time.  

* Lancaster County Democrats will hold their annual Patriots Dinner in Lincoln on Saturday at the Center for People in Need. 

* In the Rotunda last week to oppose casino gambling stood the greatest college football coach in history. It is worth saying again: It's not only what Tom Osborne accomplished -- an average of 10 wins a season for 25 straight years, including an incredible 60-3 record during his last five seasons -- but where he achieved it.

* The Legislature returns Tuesday to a floor agenda that includes the headline-grabbing prospect of 18-year-old governors and state senators. That is, if the voters would approve a proposed constitutional amendment. And if voters subsequently choose to elect a candidate that young. 

* Pitchers and catchers report this week. Let's do this.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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