GOP threatens to block Obama's SCOTUS nominee after Scalia death
Scalia, 79, was found dead on Saturday morning at a luxury resort in Texas where he had been spending the weekend, Reuters reports.
There has been an outpouring of grief and sadness for Scalia, who was appointed to the Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, with Chief Justice John Roberts calling him an “extraordinary individual and jurist.”
“The president and first lady extend their deepest condolences to Justice Scalia’s family,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a brief statement.
The totally unexpected loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a massive setback for the Conservative movement and our COUNTRY!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2016
My thoughts and prayers are with Justice Scalia's family and his colleagues on the court who mourn his passing. pic.twitter.com/Y51xUMMEId— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 13, 2016
Justice Scalia was a defender of the constitution, an important conservative voice in the court. He will be missed. https://t.co/cOB3juvx7A— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) February 13, 2016
With the Supreme Court now split with four Democratic-appointed justices and four Republican-appointed ones, a major political showdown between the two parties has already emerged as to who should appoint Scalia’s replacement.
Sudden death of Justice Scalia is a seismic event, and surely will reverberate in campaign, focusing both sides on stakes.— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) February 13, 2016
Scalia is the most immediately politicized death I've seen on Twitter.— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) February 13, 2016
Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz took to Twitter to say “we owe to him [Scalia] and the nation” to hold-off on appointing his replacement.
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
These sentiments have been echoed by others in the party, including from Cruz’s rival Marco Rubio.
“The next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia’s unwavering belief in the founding principles that we hold dear,” Rubio said in a statement.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also rowed in behind Cruz and Rubio.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” McConnell said in a statement. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Conn Carroll, communications director for Utah Republican Mike Lee, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated it would be almost impossible for Obama to successfully appoint a replacement for Scalia.
What is less than zero? The chances of Obama successfully appointing a Supreme Court Justice to replace Scalia?— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) February 13, 2016
If anything this will put a full stop to all Obama judicial nominees going forward.— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) February 13, 2016
Let there be no doubt: Obama cant appt Scalia's replacement. Senate must go to war over it. Next Prez does. Fruit of Obama's approach to law— Jeff B/DDHQ (@EsotericCD) February 13, 2016
This is not the view on the Democratic side of the aisle, however, from where calls for Scalia’s replacement to be announced sooner rather than later can already be heard.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has said it would be “unprecedented in recent history” for such a vacancy to be left for so long.
The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away. The Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible.— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) February 13, 2016
Would be unprecedented in recent history for SCOTUS to go year with vacancy. And shameful abdication of our constitutional responsibility.— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) February 13, 2016
Senate Repubs should consider Obama nominee to replace Scalia on #SCT. If not there will be 8 member CT for a year, paralyzation too long.— Rebecca Zietlow (@ProfessorRZ) February 13, 2016
Senator Patrick Leahy, also a member of the Judiciary Committee, has said it is “sad news to suggest that the President or the Senate should not perform its constitutional duty.”
“The American people deserve to have a fully functioning Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of the United States is too important to our democracy for it to be understaffed for partisan reasons,” he said in a statement.
The general public has also weighed in on who should appoint Scalia’s replacement with equally mixed opinions.
As expected, some have sided with the Republicans stating the country would be “screwed” if Obama chooses his successor.
No nominees until we get a new President. The GOP Senate should not confirm a SCOTUS nom for a lame duck POTUS.— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) February 13, 2016
Scalia being dead is big big news. The conservative bulwark of SCOTUS may be replaced by a liberal Obama nominee. The unthinkable is here.— D-Man (@danishbiochem) February 13, 2016
On the other hand, some say blocking Obama’s nominee could very well drive more people to vote for a Democrat in the general election later this year.
Republicans will block any Obama S. Court nominee, he might as well go all out & nominate a female Muslim American Judge of color. #scalia— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) February 13, 2016
Counterpoint: Failing to confirm a #Scalia replacement could significantly increase voter turnout, which historically works against GOP.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) February 13, 2016
Obama won't compromise on Scalia's replacement- he's going to pick a nominee that can drive the Dem base to polls in Nov when GOP refuses.— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) February 13, 2016
Imho if GOP blocks the nominee for the whole year , they will loose the election. They cant shake the stigma. #scalia— colkurdu (@colkurdu) February 13, 2016
Seen by many as a leader in conservatism, Scalia was the first Italian-American appointed to the top court and was known for interpreting the constitution exactly as worded, without taking modern context into consideration.
“The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring,” he said. “It means today not what current society, much less the courts, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”
Scalia was opposed to affirmative action, abortion, and same sex marriages. He was often scathing in his remarks on such issues, describing the latter as a “threat to American democracy.”
I'll say this about Scalia: I enjoyed drawing him. pic.twitter.com/oTojBymxpi— Jen Sorensen (@JenSorensen) February 14, 2016
In 2015, Scalia wrote a scornful 21-page dissent on the court’s upholding of Obamacare, describing the decision as “interpretive jiggery-pokery,” a “defense of the indefensible,” and “pure applesauce.”
A devout Roman Catholic, Scalia was also dismissive of evolution, stating that it was “not a scientific fact,” and, in fact, a “guess, and a very bad guess at that.”
In 2008, Scalia wrote the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, stating citizens did, in fact, have a constitutional right to own a gun, which resulted in the striking down of Washington DC’s ban on handguns.