Federal Courts and Nominations

Antonin Scalia Replacement Battle Begins

The death of Antonin Scalia has started a battle of opinions in the charged up political atmosphere in the United States.

By Aditi Simlai Tiwari

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away on Feb. 13 at the age of 79. His demise has resulted in differences of opinion on whether President Barack Obama should get to nominate Scalia’s replacement.

“I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. There’s plenty of time…for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. These are responsibilities I take seriously as should everyone,” Obama said, adding that those duties were “bigger than any one party,” reports Time.

“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,” said Republican majority leader Senator Mitch McConnell opposing Obama in a statement, according to The New York Times.

But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid differed from McConnell. “The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away. With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible. It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities,” Reid said according to CNN.

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both predictably were opposed to Obama nominating anyone. “I do not believe the President should appoint someone,” said Rubio according to CNN. While Cruz opined, “We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that would undermine the religious liberty of millions of Americans,” reports CNN.

The Republicans hold 54 seats in the Senate and could block any person nominated by Obama. Even if nominated, the person would have a tough year ahead considering 2016 is election year. “It certainly is a lot for a person to take on to be the nominee in this heated political climate,” said Elizabeth Wydra of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center, reports Politico.

“Barack Obama is President of the United States until January 20, 2017. That is a fact, my friends, whether the Republicans like it or not. Elections have consequences. The President has a responsibility to nominate a new justice and the Senate has a responsibility to vote,” said Hillary Clinton on the issue, reports CNN.

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