Jeff Sessions: Antonin Scalia ‘Unquestionably One of the Greatest Jurists’ in United States History

Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., pauses as he takes his seat on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, before the start of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Washington, DC

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest and the intellectual leader of the modern conservative movement, said on Saturday evening that the nation has suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“The country has suffered a tremendous loss of a true American treasure,” Sessions said. “Justice Scalia was unquestionably one of the greatest jurists in our nation’s history. His commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law above all else was the very definition of what a judge should be. His approach was to enforce the Constitution and the law as written, not as some might wish it to be.”

Sessions said Scalia’s commitment to the rule of law defends the rights of the people, rather than the political will of certain judges. He said:

This defends the right of the people to have their will enforced over the personal preferences of judges,” Sessions said. “His brilliant and incisive writings time and time again exposed the overreach of activist judges. Indeed, it is impossible to overstate the impact his jurisprudence has had in moving the Court towards the classical understanding of law. It is wrong to view the Court’s division as a matter of politics, at least for the orthodox judges. They found their judgment on law not politics. It is our responsibility to the American people and our Constitutional heritage to ensure that Justice Scalia’s legacy on the Court is carried on.

At this time, it appears as though even though the institutional left, President Barack Obama, and Senate Democrats will throw a fit, Republicans in the Senate will block Obama from appointing a new nominee to fill Scalia’s slot. That means the slot won’t be filled until after Americans elect a new president this year and that new president takes office in early 2017.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chairman of the full Judiciary Committee, has already made clear that precedent shows the Senate does not approve Supreme Court nominees in presidential election years. Grassley said:

The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year. Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this President, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell concurs, promising Americans he won’t allow Obama’s nominee through the Senate.

“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.”