Amid demands from Republicans that his successor appoint a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, President Obama has said firmly that he will submit a nominee and that the Senate should vote on the nominee in a timely manner.
“I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time and there will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote,” Obama said Saturday night. “These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy. They are about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned.”
Most of the Republicans running for president say the Senate should confirm no nominee during the last year of the Obama administration, as does Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Obama also called Scalia “one of the towering legal figures of our time.” Obama noted the justice’s wit and erudition, his love of both hunting and opera, and his friendship with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg despite their widely differing views. Watch below.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, likewise honored Scalia’s career while denouncing the Republican call to delay replacing him:
Statement on the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: pic.twitter.com/xazj9dDd5c
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 14, 2016
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, also said there should be no delay. “The American people deserve to have a fully functioning Supreme Court,” he said, according to The Hill. “The Supreme Court of the United States is too important to our democracy for it to be understaffed for partisan reasons. It is only February. The president and the Senate should get to work without delay to nominate, consider and confirm the next justice to serve on the Supreme Court.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 14, 2016