Can Obama fill Scalia’s vacancy with 11 months left in office?

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2011 file photo, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia participates at the third annual Washington Ideas Forum at the Newseum in Washington. Scalia and Attorney General Eric Holder are scheduled to speak at an American Bar Association meeting in New Orleans this weekend. Scalia will be addressing ABA members and answering audience questions on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. The discussion will be led by Boston University School of Law dean emeritus Ronald Cass. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MEDIA GENERAL) Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s death could bring seismic change to the nation’s highest court and the current presidential race.

Scalia was famous for his sarcasm, sharply written opinions, and was considered a champion for conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, with less than a year before the election, the Republican-led Senate could wage a huge battle with Pres. Obama over finding his replacement.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement released by his office.

However, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid responded, noting that it would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a full year with a vacancy.

“The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away,” Reid said in a tweet. “The Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible.”

Pres. Obama has scheduled an address for 8:30 p.m. this evening where he will undoubtably reveal his plans moving forward.

Any possible nominee must first be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

“I wouldn’t make any prognostication on anything about the future because there’s so many balls in the air when things are considered,” Grassley told the Des Moines Register Saturday night.

However, others, like Conn Carroll, the communications director for judiciary committee member Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), had no problem tweeting his prediction.

The process of appointing a Supreme Court justice can be extremely contentious.

Presidents often try to choose candidates with similar political ideologies.

The candidate is then formally nominated to the Court, and goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If the committee approves, it goes to the full Senate for a vote.

Pres. Obama does have the opportunity to go around the Senate if they refuse to approve his nominee—by appointing someone while the Senate is in recess.


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