Once again ignoring a co-equal branch of the government, President Barack Obama indicated that he intends to ram a new associate justice into the U.S. Supreme Court to replace the later Antonin Scalia, and tip the high court’s philosophical make-up in his favor.
After the announcement of Scalia’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Senate should fight any efforts by the president to appoint a new justice, The Dallas Morning News reported.
“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.
McConnell’s move was applauded by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, who are both Republican presidential candidates.
Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 13, 2016
In a statement, Rubio said: “The next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia’s unwavering belief in the founding principles that we hold dear.”
Obama announced Saturday that he intends to nominate a successor jurist “in due time.”
CNN anchor Jake Tapper reported:
The president will nominate someone to replace Antonin Scalia, sources tell me. (Not a surprise but given the debate thought worth checking)
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 14, 2016
“I plan to fulfill my Constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor in due time,” he announced Saturday night.
Here’s the president’s statement.
While the president has the power to nominate any person of his choosing to the bench, the president’s appointee must first be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and ratified by the full Senate.
This will be Obama’s first opportunity to attempt a Supreme Court appointment since the GOP became the majority power in the Senate in 2015, and if history is any guide, his chances of doing so this time are slim to none.
Josh Blackman, associate law professor at South Texas College of Law, reported that a Supreme Court justice hasn’t been confirmed in an election year by divided government for 136 years — 1880.
Since the Civil War, there have been eleven nominations to the Supreme Court in a presidential election year. Of those nine were confirmed, one withdrawn, and one was not acted upon. However, of the nine that were confirmed, eight were with a unified government–that is the President and the Senate were of the same party. Only Justice William Burnham Woods, nominated by Rutherford B. Hayes (a Republican) was confirmed by a Democratic Senate in 1880. All other Justices who were nominated in election year were confirmed by Senates that were of the same party as the President.
Assuming Republican in the Senate stand firm, that record isn’t likely to be broken in 2016.
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