Scalia's death sparks election-year fight over choosing replacement

WASHINGTON -- Justice Antonin Scalia's death immediately sparked a heated election-year fight over whether President Barack Obama should try to fill the court vacancy.

See Full Article

Republicans on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail insisted the choice should fall to the next president.

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

His position was echoed by a pair of senators seeking the GOP presidential nomination: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

The White House issued a statement offering condolences to Scalia's family but did not immediately provide any hint about whether Obama planned to nominate a replacement.

His decision would likely determine the tenor of much of his final year in office -- and ricochet onto the campaign trail. Obama, who already has little goodwill on the Hill, would certainly face stiff opposition from Republicans who want the chance to further tip the court to the right.

Senate Democrats made it clear they expect Obama to nominate a new justice and that they would work vigorously to keep Republicans from dragging out the confirmation process. They offered early counterarguments to Republican statements that the decision should rest with the next president.

"It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential constitutional responsibilities."

Democrats pointed out that Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed in an election year -- 1988 -- the final year of Ronald Reagan's presidency. Kennedy had been nominated in November 1987 after the Senate rejected Robert Bork and Judge Douglas Ginsburg bowed out.

Democrats also argued that waiting for the next president in January 2017 would leave the court without a ninth justice for more than the remainder of Obama's term as Senate confirmation on average takes just over two months.

"With so many critical issues before the Supreme Court, I am hopeful that the president can move as quickly as possible to fill this vacancy with the advice and consent of the Senate," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, "The Supreme Court of the United States is too important to our democracy for it to be understaffed for partisan reasons."

Before Scalia's death, the court was ideologically split with many 5-4 decisions. The remaining justices are generally divided among four conservative votes and four liberal votes -- leaving the next nominee crucial to the court's direction, potentially for years to come.

The current session has major cases still undecided. Cases that already have been argued by the court but not decided involve Obama's executive orders easing immigration rules for many people in the country illegally, a Texas case that could increase Hispanics' voting strength, another Texas case challenging affirmative action rules at the University of Texas, a California case challenging employee unions' practice of requiring public school teachers to pay dues for union activities and yet another Texas case challenging a law that could force many clinics offering abortion services to close.

When there is a 4-4 tie, now a distinct possibility this spring, the result is basically to affirm the lower court decision before the case came to the Supreme Court. On a major issue, the high court would be likely to rehear the case once it had its full membership.

There are no time restrictions on appointing a new justice. If the Senate confirms a nominee, he or she could begin sitting to hear cases for the remainder of the current term.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Lebanese women protest against rape law

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- A dozen Lebanese women, dressed as brides in white wedding dresses stained with fake blood and bandages, have gathered outside government buildings in Lebanon's capital to protest a law that allows a rapist to get away with his crime if he marries the survivor. Source
  • 'He always said he was going to kill her': Turkish laws protecting women are often ignored

    World News CBC News
    Aydeniz Alisbah Tuskan doesn't really need reminders, but her bulletin board is plastered with the headlines anyway: rape, murder, domestic violence in Turkey and the ongoing battle to ensure the abusers, rapists and killers are punished. Source
  • Iraqi troops enter another ISIS-held neighbourhood in Mosul

    World News CTV News
    MOSUL, Iraq -- The Iraqi army on Tuesday pushed into another neighbourhood held by the Islamic State group on the southeastern edge of Mosul, according to a military statement and Iraqi commanders on the ground. Source
  • Germany's Merkel re-elected as conservative party leader

    World News CTV News
    BERLIN -- Chancellor Angela Merkel won a new two-year term Tuesday as the leader of Germany's main conservative party, gaining solid backing after stressing her determination to prevent a repeat of last year's huge migrant influx. Source
  • Tamara Lovett on trial for son's death: I failed as a mother

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The defence is arguing its case today at the trial of a woman who treated her son with dandelion tea and oil of oregano before he died of a strep infection. Tamara Lovett's trial is entering its second week in a Calgary courtroom. Source
  • Zookeeper won't be fired for punching kangaroo to save dog

    World News CTV News
    An Australian zookeeper will not lose his job after punching a kangaroo to save a dog, in an incident caught on video that has since gone viral. The video shows Greig Tonkins engaging in some interspecies fisticuffs to rescue a hunting dog at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, on June 15. Source
  • Senators recommend steps to better integrate Syrian refugees

    Canada News CBC News
    One year after the first wave of Syrian refugees arrived in Canada, the Senate Committee on Human Rights will release a report today recommending steps to ease the resettlement process. The report, called "Finding Refuge in Canada: A Syrian Resettlement Story," is being released at 10 a.m. Source
  • 'It looks funny'; Montreal's Christmas tree called ugly by some on social media [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Montrealers flocked to the Quartier des Spectacles at lunch hour on Monday to get a close look at the city's much-maligned Christmas tree, which has been ridiculed on social media over the past several days. The 88-foot tree has been described as ugly, too bare, too old and not deserving of its prominent place at the intersection of Ste-Catherine and Jeanne-Mance Sts. Source
  • NYC mayor blames Trump, hate speech for rise in hate crimes

    World News CTV News
    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a news conference in front of Trump Tower following a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in New York. (Mark Lennihan/AP) Source
  • Alerts remind people to stock up on medications before storms

    World News CBC News
    Calls or texts from pharmacies before major storms help prompt people to stock up on their medications, according to a new study. People who received a call or text before a major blizzard struck the northeastern United States in January 2016 were 9 per cent more likely than those who didn't receive a reminder to refill medications before travel became hazardous, researchers found. Source