US President Barack Obama called out Senate Republicans who have vowed to block any nomination he makes for the Supreme Court seat vacated after Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death on Saturday.
“The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now,” he said at a Tuesday press conference from Rancho Mirage, California, where he is attending a summit with the leaders of Asian nations. “Historically, this has not been viewed as a question. There is no unwritten law that says it can only be done on off years. That’s not in the Constitutional text.”
“I am amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the constitution suddenly reading into it a whole serious of provisions that weren’t there,” he continued.
Obama said there would be plenty of time for the Senate to consider his eventual nominee.
“We’ve almost gotten accustomed to how obstructionist the Senate’s become when it comes to nominations,” he said, riffing off nominations to various posts still pending in Congress. “Every nomination is contested, everything is blocked, regardless of how qualified the person is, even when there’s no ideological objection to them.”
When asked whether he had decided on nominating a more moderate candidate for the high court, Obama said he had made no such decision. He added that nothing should be assumed — other than that the eventual nominee would be well-qualified for the job.
The Supreme Court is “the one court where we would expect elected officials to rise above day-to-day politics, and this will be the opportunity for senators to do their job,” he said. “Your job isn’t over until you’re voted out, or until your term expires. … I think what’s fair to say is that is not the fault of any single party. This has become just one extension of politics.”
The vacant Supreme Court seat is at the center of the political discussion, particularly involving the 2016 presidential election. Republicans are demanding that the Senate refrains from confirming Obama’s eventual appointment to the court, while Democrats are lambasting Republicans for obstructing what they claim is a constitutional duty of the president.
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