Justice Don Willett writes for the Wall Street Journal:
Antonin Scalia’s untimely death in February has left the Supreme Court with an even number of justices: eight. Unlike tennis matches, Supreme Court decisions are tiebreaker-free, meaning the lower-court ruling stands without any high-court guidance. In the past three months, the Scalia-less court has evenly divided several times, including leaving intact a major win for public-sector unions inFriedrichs v. California Teachers Association.
Most American justice, however, is dispensed in state courts. Every state supreme court is odd-numbered (five, seven, or nine justices), but because of recusals, unfilled vacancies or prolonged absences, each court occasionally dips below full strength, thus raising the specter of supreme stalemate.
How do the 50 states handle high-court deadlock? Turns out, when it comes to impasse resolution, the laboratories of democracy offer innovations galore.
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