Democrats pushed for Congress to vote upon a Supreme Court nominee from President Barack Obama, sharpening a fight with Republican leaders who said they won’t consider a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia until after the 2016 election.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in a Twitter message, said Obama will occupy the White House until January. “It’s his job to nominate a justice, the Senate has a responsibility to vote,” Clinton said.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, vying with Clinton for the Democratic nomination, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that denying a vote for a Supreme Court nominee “is beyond comprehension, and it just speaks to the unbelievable level and unprecedented level of Republican obstructionism against Obama.”
The battle lines have been drawn as Scalia’s death stands to have an immediate effect on some of the country’s most contentious legal questions—from abortion to immigration to mandatory union fees—by undercutting conservative hopes of gaining victories in pending Supreme Court cases.
Potential 5-4 votes in favour of conservative positions, with Scalia in the majority, now could result in a series of 4-4 ties, leaving intact lower court decisions. An eight-member lineup would also have a significant impact on the cases the court accepts in the term that starts in October.
Vow to Block
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to block Obama from replacing Scalia, a direct challenge to the White House. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President,” McConnell said in a statement.
The Senate passes judgment on presidential court appointees, a process with a lengthy history of bitter battles.
Obama said Saturday he won’t hesitate to offer a nominee. “There will be plenty of time for me to do so, and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote,” he said.
McConnell got support from Republican presidential candidates including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush. At a debate on Saturday, Republican front-runner Donald Trump called for “delay, delay, delay.”
speaks on legislation that would create permanent tax-free internet access beside Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain (L) and Republican Senator from Utah Orrin Hatch (R)