U.S. President Barack Obama has chastised Senate Republicans for vowing to not even hold a hearing for his potential pick to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (video below).
On Feb. 24, during a White House meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, the president took questions from reporters. The topic of conversation was Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Majority Leader, announcing that there would not even be a hearing held for a new SCOTUS justice.
“I understand the politics are hard for them because the easier thing to do is to give in to the most extreme voices within their party and stand pat and do nothing,” President Obama said, according to CBS News. “But that’s not our job. Our job is to fulfill our constitutional duties.”
The president predicted that once he had offered a nominee, the hard line stance of GOP senators would buckle. He added that after a hearing, “they are then free to vote whatever their conscience dictates as to whether this person is qualified or not.”
Sen. McConnell had stated that the vacant seat of the deceased Justice Scalia “should not be filled by this lame-duck president.”
President Obama countered this sentiment, explaining that the term “lame-duck presidency” refers to the period between November to January that a president awaits their newly elected successor to take office.
“I’ve got a year to go,” President Obama said. “I don’t think they they would approve of me abdicating on my duties as commander-in-chief and to stop doing all the other work that I’ve got to do.”
On Feb. 24, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, blasted Senate Republicans for denying President Obama’s future SCOTUS pick the courtesy of a hearing, The Washington Post reports.
“To say don’t even send us a nominee is at variance to the Constitution and deeply disrespectful to the office of the president of the United States,” Clinton said at a campaign stop in South Carolina. “I’m back the president. He will send, as he always does, a well-qualified nominee.”
While the White House has given no confirmation of who President Obama will nominate for SCOTUS, the press has indicated that one potential candidate currently being vetted is Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, according to ABC News.
Sandoval, who served as his state’s first Hispanic federal judge in 2010, has been characterized as a centrist executive who is moderate on abortion rights and the environment but right-leaning on business and gun laws.
Sen. McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart stated in an email that GOP senators would not hold a hearing even if Sandoval is the nominee.