After the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a number of GOP lawmakers have essentially told Obama to forget about nominating a replacement, because they don’t trust him to pick a suitable candidate.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said that the vacancy shouldn’t be filled until the next presidency, and GOP presidential candidate and Texas senator Ted Cruz has promised to filibuster any candidate Obama nominates.
Undeterred by these overtures, Obama said that he would nominate someone who “indisputably is qualified” to replace Scalia.
“When there is vacancy on the Supreme Court, the president of the United States is to nominate someone, the Senate is to consider that nomination, and either they disapprove of that nominee, or that nominee is elevated to the Supreme Court,” Obama said at the U.S.-ASEAN summit in California. “Historically, this has not been viewed as a question.”
Scalia was the reigning conservative on the Supreme Court, and conservatives are worried that a liberal pick by Obama would tip the balance of judges in favor of the left and usher in a slew of liberal rulings by on the court, at a time when religious liberty is considered by many to be under assault.
Republicans have a majority in the Senate, and can effectively block any nomination Obama makes, and the Senate isn’t required by law to fill up Supreme Court vacancies in a timely manner.
“There is no unwritten law that it can only be done on off-years, that’s not in the Constitutional text,” Obama said. “I’m amused when I hear people, who claim to be strict interpreters of the constitution, suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there.”