WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death has quickly sparked a heated debate over whether President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement.
The leader of the Senate, Republican Mitch McConnell, said the nomination should fall to the next president. The Republican-led Senate would confirm any nominee by Obama.
Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio also said Obama should hold off on a nomination.
Democrats immediately raised objections. The Senate’s top Democrat, Harry Reid, said it would be “unprecedented in recent history” for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacancy and urged Obama to send the Senate a nominee right away.
Leaders in both parties are likely to use the vacancy to implore voters to nominate presidential candidates with the best chance of winning in November’s general election.
In a statement Saturday, McConnell mourned Scalia, calling him an “unwavering champion of a timeless document that unites each of us as Americans” — the Constitution. He offered condolences to the Scalia family.
The leader of the Senate sent a clear message to Obama that if he nominates a successor to Scalia, that individual is unlikely to win Senate confirmation.
McConnell said the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next justice, and the vacancy should not be filled until after a new president takes office in January 2017.