Republicans on Judiciary Committee Slam Door on Any Obama Supreme Court Nominee
|Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)|
In an open letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the 11 Republican senators said they plan “to exercise our constitutional authority to withhold consent on any nominee to the Supreme Court submitted by this president.”
Under the leadership of Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the group effectively has barred any Obama nominee to succeed Scalia from advancing to the Senate floor through the regular process.
After Scalia’s unexpected death Feb. 13, McConnell, R-Ky., and other GOP leaders quickly declared that the Senate should not confirm anyone to fill the seat until after a new president takes office in January.
With the letter Tuesday, the 11 committee Republicans rallied to that position, writing:
He said: “Democrats [have] never stopped a Republican [Supreme Court] nominee from receiving a hearing and getting a vote on confirmation. Never.”
In their letter, the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee counter that there’s no modern historical precedent for the Senate to confirm a nominee during a year when the country casts ballots for the next president:
“The president has already begun consulting with the Senate. After a nomination has been made, we in the Senate must then do our jobs,” Leahy said in a floor statement, adding:
Over the past 10 days, mostly while Congress was in recess, speculation mounted about a fracturing Republican conference when a few less conservative GOP senators said an Obama nominee should receive a committee hearing.
Hopes for that dimmed with the letter signed by Grassley and the 10 other Republican committee members: Orrin Hatch (UT), Jeff Sessions (AL), Lindsey Graham (SC), John Cornyn (TX), Mike Lee (UT), Ted Cruz (TX), Jeff Flake (AZ), David Vitter (LA.), David Perdue (GA), and Thom Tillis (NC).
If Republicans ultimately are successful at blocking an Obama nominee, the Supreme Court will operate without a full bench for at least 332 days—more than 10 months.
The eight justices then would not be joined by a ninth until the Senate confirms the nominee of Obama’s successor, who takes office Jan. 20.
Philip Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) is the congressional correspondent for The Daily Signal
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