GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA— Democratic Senate leaders are calling on the President to nominate a new Supreme Court justice “as soon as possible,” following the passing of constitutionalist Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday afternoon.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has asked President Obama to act immediately.
“The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away. With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible,” Reid said, The Hill reports.
“It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities,” Reid added.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, also asserted similar views.
“Although I often did not agree with his legal opinions, no one doubted his commitment or his brilliance … I hope that no one will use this sad news to suggest that the President or the Senate should not perform its constitutional duty,” Leahy said. ““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.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) took to Twitter to express similar sentiments.
I hope @POTUS will promptly nominate someone w/strong intellect & integrity who can win bipartisan support.
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) February 13, 2016
I will work vigorously as a member of the Judiciary Committee to achieve confirmation.
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) February 14, 2016
Meanwhile, Conservative leaders have called for Senate Republicans to hold the line until Obama is out of office.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said the Senate must “ensure that the next President names” Scalia’s replacement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that the Senate wait until the next president is elected. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” he said in a statement.