Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will “withhold” consent of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.
The Republican leader said on the Senate floor the new president should choose the nominee who replaces Justice Antonin Scalia, who died February 13.
“Presidents have the right to nominate just as the Senate has its constitutional right to provide or withhold consent,” McConnell said. “In this case, the Senate will withhold it.”
In response to McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said McConnell’s statement that the Senate “will withhold consent” from an Obama nominee is an example of “Republican obstruction” that is also “an extremist approach propagated by the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.”
Pointing back to the words of then-Sen. Joe Biden, who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, McConnell noted Biden urged against appointing a new Supreme Court justice in an election year–in 1992, when George H.W. Bush was running for re-election. Reading from a Washington Post article about the issue at the time, McConnell quoted Biden as saying that an election-year nominee “would become a victim” of a “power struggle” over control of the U.S. Supreme Court.
McConnell said Biden also urged that no hearings be held on election-year nominees to the high court.
“Can you imagine dropping a nominee after the three or four or five decisions that are about to be made by the Supreme Court into that fight, into the cauldron of the middle of a presidential year?” McConnell quoted Biden. “I believe there would be no bounds of propriety that would be honored by either side. The environment within which such a hearing would be held would be so supercharged and so prone to be able to be distorted.”
McConnell also pointed to the words of Sen. Chuck Schumer who promised in 2007 to block the late-term Supreme Court nominees of President George W. Bush.