Congress Is Already Fighting Over Antonin Scalia, Hours After His Death
Members of Congress expressed their shock and sadness over the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The Associate Justice passed away at Cibolo Creek Ranch, a luxury resort in Texas, where he reportedly died of natural causes on Saturday. Scalia was just one month away from celebrating his 80th birthday. Needless to say, the somber announcement came as quite a shock to the American public and has Congress already fighting over Antonin Scalia, specifically what to do immediately regarding his vacant SCOTUS seat. Update: According to the New York Times, Obama has indicated that he plans to choose Scalia's replacement promptly.
Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have already expressed their desires to have the incoming president pick a nominee to replace Scalia. The two are undoubtedly focusing on a GOP win in the 2016 election, allowing for a conservative president to make this important decision. Other members of Congress, however, are in disagreement. Given the fact that an eight person SCOTUS runs the risk of a split Supreme Court, many are calling for swift action from President Obama.
Remarks of condolences have been sprinkled with calls to action throughout the day from members of Congress. Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam has condemned this behavior, tweeting that "there will be a time to discuss the policy and political implications. Now is not that time." The issue certainly won't rest for presidential hopefuls on the right, who are set to take the stage for a GOP debate in Greenville, South Carolina the same day as Scalia's passing. Here's what Congress has had to say so far.
Congress Members Who Want Immediate Action
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy has also come out in favor of having Obama immediately move to choose a SCOTUS nominee, echoing statements by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and Connecticut Sen. Jim Himes. In a statement following the passing of Scalia, Leahy had this to say:
The American people deserve to have a fully functioning Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of the United States is too important to our democracy for it to be understaffed for partisan reasons. It is only February. The President and the Senate should get to work without delay to nominate, consider and confirm the next justice to serve on the Supreme Court.
Congress Members Who Want The Next President To Choose
In addition to the statements made from Cruz, Rubio, Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci has also come out in favor of leaving the decision of a SCOTUS nominee to replace Scalia up to an incoming president and not Obama. Renacci had this to say about the decision:
As the President has noted, elections have consequences and I strongly support Leader McConnell's decision to let the American people have a say in the Court's next nominee in November. The Republican majority in the US Senate must reject any nominee from a lame duck President.