Obama to nominate Scalia successor 'in due time'

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama declared Saturday night he would seek to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, charging into a heated and likely prolonged election-year fight with Republicans in Congress.

See Full Article

Obama said a nomination was "bigger than any one party."

With a half-dozen or more major cases before the court, Obama said he pIanned "to fulfil my constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor in due time."

The Senate should have "plenty of time ... to give that person a fair hearing and timely vote," he said.

The court has already heard -- but not decided -- big cases involving immigration, abortion, affirmative action and public employee unions. With many cases recently decided by 5-4 margins, the vacancy could have major repercussions, both legally and in the presidential race.

Obama's remarks followed those of Republicans who wasted little time Saturday night, as news of Scalia's unexpected death spread, arguing that Obama should leave the choice to his successor.

"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.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said Republicans calling for the seat to remain vacant "dishonour our Constitution."

The nomination, Obama's third of this tenure, fight in the Senate could determine the tenor of much of Obama's final year in office -- and ricochet through the campaign to replace him. Obama, who already has little goodwill on the Hill, faces stiff opposition from Republicans hungry for the chance to further tip the court to the right. A confirmation process often takes more than two months, but could be drawn out longer by the Republican-led Senate.

Senate Democrats made clear that they would work vigorously to keep Republicans from trying to run out the clock. They quickly offered 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.

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."

The impact on the campaign trail was immediate. Cruz issued a statement urging Obama to hold off nominating even as news of Scalia unexpected death spread. Hillary

Clinton, on the other hand, said, "The Senate has a constitutional responsibility here that it cannot abdicate for partisan political 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 court faces a crowded docket of politically charged cases that were certain to resonate in the presidential campaign on issues such as immigration, abortion, affirmative action, labour unions and Obama's health care law. Decisions were expected in late spring and early summer on whether the president could shield up to 5 million immigrants living in the United States illegally from deportation.

Scalia was a reliable conservative who often provided the 5th vote to break a tie in the most ideologically divisive cases. The immediate impact of his death for the current term means that the justices will now be divided 4-4 in many of those cases. If there is a tie vote, then the lower court opinion remains in place.

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

  • 100 people feared buried in China landslide

    World News CBC News
    A county government in southwestern China says around 100 people from 40 homes are feared buried by a landslide that crashed into their homes. The government of Mao county in Sichuan province says the landslide from a mountain fell onto the village of Xinmo at about 6 a.m. Source
  • Wainwright-based military member charged with child porn offences

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A Wainwright-based soldier is charged with child pornography related offences after a joint investigation by the province’s Internet Child Exploitation unit and the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. It’s alleged the man attempted to arrange to meet up with a Texas girl for sex, says a Friday news release from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams. Source
  • Syrian doctor barred from U.S. under travel ban resettles in Toronto

    Canada News CTV News
    A respected Syrian doctor blocked from re-entering the United States to continue his Ivy League education after U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban has found a new home in Canada. Khaled Almilaji arrived in Toronto last Friday and was reunited with his wife, Jehan Mouhsen. Source
  • Michigan terror attack planned?

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The Montreal man accused of trying to kill an airport cop in the U.S. did so on a highly symbolic day for Muslims, TVA reports. The network reports that Wednesday — the day Amor Ftouhi allegedly almost killed the officer at an airport in Flint, Michigan — was Laylat Al-Qadr or “night of fate. Source
  • Hockey hothead, 18, jailed for punching ref

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Cole Trevor Crane’s hockey horizons have been put on ice. The Dave Schultz wannabe has been jailed for 30 days after pleading guilty to pummeling a referee during a PEI midget AA hockey game on March 26. Source
  • Heavy rains prompt evacuations in Ontario town

    Canada News CTV News
    WATERLOO, Ont. - Heavy rain in the Waterloo, Ont., area has prompted some evacuations and at least one community has declared a state of emergency. The town of Minto, northwest of Kitchener, declared an emergency Friday morning and moved up to 30 families from their homes and closed some roads and streets in the community. Source
  • U.S. senators ask military to clarify role in Yemen torture

    World News CBC News
    Pressure mounted on the U.S. Defence Department Friday after multiple senators called for investigations into reports that U.S. military interrogators worked with forces from the United Arab Emirates who are accused of torturing detainees in Yemen. Source
  • Mulcair unimpressed by Canadian sniper's record kill

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    NDP leader Tom Mulcair is targeting the Liberals after it emerged a Canadian sniper smashed the world record for the longest confirmed kill. The gunman took an ISIS fighter off the board in northern Iraq with a shot that travelled more than 3.5 kilometres to hit its target — more than a kilometre better than the previous top shot. Source
  • Black off-duty St. Louis police officer shot by white officer

    World News CTV News
    St. Louis police say a black off-duty officer who heard a commotion near his home and tried to help fellow officers arrest three black suspects has been shot by a white officer who did not recognize him. Source
  • Footing the bill: Yukon willing to swap free trip for human toes

    Canada News CTV News
    Tourism Yukon has started a strange (but they insist, very real) search for donated human toes. The macabre contest comes after a brown, mummified toe served in a famous cocktail in Dawson City went missing. Source