Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that a replacement for deceased Justice Antonin Scalia should not be confirmed until a new President is elected and in office.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said in a statement. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”
Justice Scalia died Saturday in Texas. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. At the time of his death, he was the longest-serving member of the Court.
“Today our country lost an unwavering champion of a timeless document that unites each of us as Americans. Justice Scalia’s fidelity to the Constitution was rivaled only by the love of his family: his wife Maureen his nine children, and his many grandchildren,” Sen. McConnell said.
“Through the sheer force of his intellect and his legendary wit, this giant of American jurisprudence almost singlehandedly revived an approach to constitutional interpretation that prioritized the text and original meaning of the Constitution,” McConnell continued. “Elaine and I send our deepest condolences to the entire Scalia family.”
Scalia’s death sets up a long and potentially acrimonious process to replace him on the Court. It would potentially be President Obama’s third appointment to the nine-member Court.
McConnell’s statement suggests the Republican Senate will delay any confirmation hearings until a new President is elected in November. A potential Supreme Court nomination for the new President raises the stakes of the election even higher.