Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Majority Leader, has definitively confirmed that the GOP will block any Supreme Court (SCOTUS) nominee proposed by U.S. President Barack Obama. Not only will Senate Republicans block a vote — they don’t even want to hold a hearing.
On Feb. 23, the Majority Leader took to the Senate floor to make his stance clear, according to CNN.
“Presidents have a right to nominate just as the Senate has its constitutional right to provide or withhold consent,” McConnell said.
The Majority Leader then quoted the words of a congressman who has previously endorsed blocking a president being allowed to nominate a SCOTUS: current U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
In 1992, Biden told The Washington Post that Senate Democrats should block any hearings of then-President George H.W. Bush’s proposed nominee.
“If someone steps down, I would highly recommend the President not name someone, not send a name up,” Biden said. “If (Bush) did send someone up, I would ask the Senate to seriously consider not having a hearing on that nominee.”
Biden had fired back on GOP lawmakers using his comment, issuing a statement on Feb. 22.
"In the same statement critics are pointing to today, I urged the Senate and White House to work together to overcome partisan differences to ensure the court functions as the Founding Fathers intended," Biden said. "That remains my position today."
When SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia passed away on Feb. 13, McConnell, only hours later, indicated that GOP lawmakers would block President Obama from nominating a replacement, hoping to recapture the White House in November 2016 and nominate a conservative judge.
President Obama is currently reviewing candidates to nominate to the highest court in the land, but observers state that he will strategically bide his time.
“I think the White House would have always approached this process carefully and very deliberately,” American University professor Stephen Vladeck told The Hill. “What’s making the contrast so stark is the reaction we’ve seen from the Republican leadership … I think the GOP is going to make a lot of hay about how fast the nominee comes out no matter what route the White House takes.”
On Feb. 16, President Obama called upon Senate Republicans to adhere to the Constitution and to at least allow a hearing on any potential nominees, according to USA Today.
"Part of the problem we have here is that we’ve almost become accustomed to how obstructionist the Senate has become to pending nominations," the president said. "This argument is just an extension of what we’ve seen in the Senate generally, and not just judicial nominees."