Justice Scalia’s Replacement is Important to Latinos, Here’s Why

LATINO PERSPECTIVE-In the next few months, citizens in Los Angeles will face the very important responsibility of choosing a presidential candidate to represent them in the general election this coming November. This election is particularly important for Latinos in Los Angeles because of the Supreme Court vacancy. With the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, President Obama is on his way to nominate his replacement. But it seems like Republicans in the Senate will block the nomination process and will leave it to the next President to choose a replacement. 

Last week the Latino Victory Project contacted me to ask me a few very important questions regarding the Latino participation in our communities -- about how the vacancy of Scalia will influence my vote, what this vacancy means to the Latino community, and a little bit about my immigrant experience. 

As the primary election approaches, I’d like to share with you three questions they asked me. Latinos who will be voting should answer these questions about the Supreme Court as part of their decision making process. 

I hope these questions and my answers to them will help the Latino community in LA to start thinking about who, of all the candidates running for President, will best represent and protect their interests for many years to come -- not only here in Los Angeles but all over our country. 

  1. Based on your experiences, why do you think it is important for Latinos to be civically active in the community? 

The government can only do so much. That is why I believe that if Latinos want to improve their quality of life and their political clout, they must get involved in their communities, give back and do all they can to change things for the better.  

  1. How have your experiences influenced your civic participation? 

Our Declaration of Independence says that we have certain unalienable Rights and among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. This is what has made America great. As an openly gay man, a Latino and an immigrant, I’m driven and influenced by the desire to fight and protect the rights of all citizens. This is important if we are all to have true liberty, live life to the fullest, and pursue the happiness and fulfillment as we want and not just what some politicians would want us for us. 

  1. With Justice Scalia's seat open in SCOTUS, how do you think this will impact your vote? What do you think this means for the Latino community? 

Because Supreme Court rulings impact our country for generations to come, picking a Supreme Court Justice is the most important decision a President can make. 

I’d like our President to pick someone who will not get mired in religion-based moral quandaries like Scalia did. I’m going to vote for a candidate who will nominate someone who understands that legal arguments are secular, and that they are based on a secular document, the U.S. Constitution, which was written during the founding of a secular democracy.  

This year the Supreme Court will rule on issues affecting Latinos in a very meaningful way. Therefore, the implications for the Latino community are huge, like President Obama’s executive action on immigration, or Evenwel v. Abbott (One Person, One Vote.) The Court will also vote on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (affirmative action), and on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (Public Union Dues) as well as many other important cases. Latinos need to be informed and choose carefully.


(Fred Mariscal came to Los Angeles from Mexico City in 1992 to study at the University of Southern California and has been in LA ever since. He is a community leader who serves as Vice Chair of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition and sits on the board of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council representing Larchmont Village. He was a candidate for Los Angeles City Council in District 4. Fred writes Latino Perspective for CityWatch and can be reached at: [email protected]) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.