The Senate’s GOP leadership said Tuesday there will be no hearings or votes for a Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia this year.
The announcement came following a closed-door meeting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell’s office with key leaders, including those on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Presidents have a 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.”
“We believe the American people need to decide who is going to make this appointment rather than a lame duck president,” Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters.
“That’s exactly what the Republican leader is doing: Delay, delay, delay,” Reid said. He angrily added that “333 days isn’t enough to do the work that we do ordinarily do in 67 days.”
So far, most of the Republican senators appear to be toeing the line, with the exceptions of moderate Sens. Mark Kirk from Illinois and Susan Collins from Maine, who have both stated there should be a vote on President Obama’s nominee.
As reported by Western Journalism, Reid made clear in May 2005 that it is fully within the Senate’s prerogative not to schedule a vote on presidential nominees. “The duties of the United States Senate are set forth in the Constitution of the United States. Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has the duty to give a presidential nominee a vote,” he contended from the Senate floor.
In 1992, when George H.W. Bush was president, then-Sen. Joe Biden argued that the Senate should not move forward on Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year. “That is what is fair to the nominee and essential to the process,” Biden said.
Both Sens. Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer voted to filibuster Justice Samuel Alito’s nomination in 2005, and Schumer called on the Senate not to approve any of President George W. Bush’s possible nominees to the high court during his last 18 months in office, except under “extraordinary circumstances.”