REID: Governor right to apologise for tasteless remark about Scalia's death, 'That's for damn sure'

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that one of the top Democratic candidates for US Senate misspoke when he said Justice Antonin Scalia’s death came “at a good time.”

The outgoing Nevada senator noted during a call with reporters that former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland apologised for his remarks after telling a labour union audience on Monday that Scalia’s death likely handed organised labour unions an unexpected Supreme Court victory earlier this year.

“As quick as he could get to a phone, or one of you guys, he said that was a mistake, I shouldn’t have said that. And that’s for damn sure,” Reid said.

Strickland, who is running against Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, claimed that Scalia would have almost certainly provided the fifth court vote against an organised labour union mandate that compels union members to pay dues, even if the members do not support the union’s political lobbying activities.

“The death of Scalia saved labour from a terrible decision,” the former governor said. “And I don’t wish anyone ill, but it happened at a good time, because once that decision had been made, it would have been tough to reverse it.”

Control of the high court has been a particular topic of interest for Strickland.

Speaking with Business Insider in Philadelphia last month, the former governor said disenchanted supporters of former Democratic presidential challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders should coalesce behind Hillary Clinton in order to keep Donald Trump from appointing conservative justices.

“If one or two or three or four young, radical conservative people were placed on that court, everything the Bernie supporters care about would be at risk,” Strickland said. “If they have a brain and really thought it through — I’m sure they do have brains, they’re bright people — they would understand the consequences of pulling back and not getting on board with Secretary Clinton.”

For his part, Reid is determined to keep the spotlight on Senate Republicans who have blocked hearings for President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia.

During Thursday’s conference call, the top ranking senate Democrat told reporters he was considering forcing a procedural proxy vote to force Republicans to go on the record against Judge Merrick Garland, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

“We have a couple of options and we’re deciding when to do that and if we should do it, when and if,” Reid said.

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