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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Polarization of the Supreme Court Vacancy

2016 April 13

By Kyler Beaty, Legislative Research Intern
         On February 13, 2016, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. According to the United State Constitution, the President is responsible for nominating the replacement justice, and the Senate is then responsible for confirming or denying that nomination; however, some politicians are calling for President Barack Obama to abstain from the nomination, leaving 8 justices to make judicial decisions for almost a year. This Supreme Court vacancy has become a polarized partisan issue. The last two Supreme Court nominations, PN 506 and PN 1768, were also appointed under the Obama Administration, and allowed Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to elevate to Supreme Court Justices.

         On the day of Scalia’s death, a debate occurred in which all of the Republican presidential candidates either asked President Obama not to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, or asked the Senate to refuse to confirm the appointee. Donald Trump said the goal is to “delay, delay, delay”. In this same debate, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio both said there was an 80 year precedent in which a Supreme Court Justice has not been confirmed by the Senate during an election year. A few hours after Scalia’s death, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said in a press conference that he believes the American people should have a say in the next Supreme Court justice, and therefore the next President should fill the vacancy. Democratic Vice President Joe Biden took a similar position in 1992 while serving in ...

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Tags: blog, SCOTUS
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