President Obama Just Got Serious About His Supreme Court Nominee

March 10th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

On Thursday, President Obama doubled down on his call for Senate Republicans to uphold what he deemed to be their constitutional duty to vote on a U.S. Supreme Court nominee while he remains in office. The president addressed the nomination controversy during a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is on his first official visit to the U.S. since he was elected last year.


"In terms of who I select, I’m going to do my job," Obama said. "My expectation’s going to be: Will the Senate do its job, as outlined in the Constitution?"

As outlined by the Constitution, the duties of appointing a Supreme Court justice are divided between the president and congress as such:

"[The President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments."


The death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month left a vacant seat on the Supreme Court bench, and efforts to fill that seat under the Obama administration have become a source of contention in Congress. Obama maintained that he would nominate a justice despite the fact that Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), have vowed to block any nominee until the next president is elected.

During the press conference, Obama emphasized that members of the Senate have a constitutional responsibility to vote on a nominee just as it is his duty to nominate a justice. For Senate Republicans to shirk that responsibility represented a break with the party's "principles," he said.

"That’s precisely the kinds of interpretive approach that they vehemently reject and that they accuse liberals of engaging in all the time," Obama said. "Well, you can’t abandon your principles — if, in fact, these are your principles — simply because they have political expedience. So we’ll see how they operate once a nomination has been made."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, has made similar arguments about the Supreme Court issue in recent weeks. On Wednesday, she accused Senate Republicans made allegations of hypocrisy against senators who engage in obstructionist behavior while at the same time denouncing the extremity of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Senate Republicans: Do Your Job

At the same time they are blocking all possible Supreme Court nominees, and suggesting they’ll beat whomever President Obama chooses like a piñata, Senate Republicans are in a panic because their party seems to be on a path to nominate one of two extremists for President. These are not separate issues. For too long, Senate Republicans have tried to have it both ways — feeding ugly lies, rejecting the legitimacy of the President, blocking scores of nominees in an effort to cripple our government – all while claiming they can govern responsibly. That game is over now. If Republican Senators want to stand up to extremists running for President, they can start now by standing up to extremists in the Senate. They can start by doing their jobs.

Posted by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"If Republican Senators want to stand up to extremists running for President, they can start now by standing up to extremists in the Senate," Warren said. "They can start by doing their jobs."

As ATTN: previously reported, this type of obstructionist action is not exclusive to Republicans in the Senate. There have been example of Democrats — including Vice President Joe Biden in 1992 — who've called for delays in the nomination of Supreme Court justices until the next president was elected.

RELATED: Elizabeth Warren's New Viral Post Highlights the Biggest Challenge Within the Republican Party