The question Sunday of whether President Barack Obama, in his final year in office, should fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death predictably left many in the field of 2016 presidential candidates and some in New York’s congressional delegation divided along party lines.
Republican candidates Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida followed the lead of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in insisting the decision be put off until a new leader is in the White House, so the public may give input via the presidential election.
Others, including Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Scalia’s replacement must be named immediately.
The high court is split 4-4 ideologically following Saturday’s death of the conservative justice, presenting the Democrat president with the rare opportunity to tip it to the left.
Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week” that Obama and the Senate should act “as soon as possible.” The Constitution makes it “pretty clear” that it is the president’s job to “appoint [and] nominate members to the Supreme Court,” he said.
Schumer said in Manhattan that the Constitution allows the president the power to fill the court, whatever time he has left in office. “If you want to be a strict constructionist, as Justice Scalia was, the president should nominate,” he said.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) agreed with others in the GOP that the nomination should be delayed, but admitted the Senate could be as polarized next year as it is now.
“I’m not talking sense, I’m talking politics,” he told Newsday. “I think it can be delayed for a year but I don’t think it can be delayed beyond that.”
Cruz said on “This Week,” “If the Democrats want to replace this nominee, they need to win the election.” He said he would “absolutely” filibuster any choice by Obama.
“The next president should have a chance to fill that void, not someone who’s never going to answer to the electorate again,” Rubio said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Republican front-runner Donald Trump said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he wants a nominee “tailored to be just like Justice Scalia.”
Obama said Saturday that he would make his nomination “in due time,” adding the responsibility is “bigger than any one party.”