By: Regina Wright ~Staff Writer~
Hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was announced, a monumental debate broke out between Republicans and Democrats regarding which Presidential administration would appoint Scalia’s successor.
The Supreme Court is left with eight justices, consisting of four Republicans and four Democrats. The appointment of Scalia’s successor could tilt the Supreme Court to the left if President Barack Obama makes an appointment and the Senate approves.
Republican and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill as well as 2016 presidential candidates started feuding about whether or not Obama should appoint a replacement or wait for the next administration to make a decision.
“Obama should appoint the new justice,” sophomore College Democrats Member Katherine Hohl said. “Conservatives will try to delay the appointment until the election of a new president, but the Supreme Court has a job to do and we cannot delay this for an entire year.”
On Saturday, Obama said that he would nominate a successor “in due time,” making this his third nomination of a Supreme Court Justice as president. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that the next administration make the appointment, allowing the American people to have a voice in their new justice.
“President Obama should appoint Scalia’s replacement,” sophomore Criminal Justice and PPP major Olivia Knestrict said. “I understand the opposing opinion of why many Republicans would rather not have Obama choose a replacement. However, the vacancy on the Supreme Court bench is an important role that needs to be filled sooner rather than later.”
Scalia’s death was announced the same day as the latest Republican presidential debate. A moment of silence was held to honor Scalia, and then each candidate argued that Obama shouldn’t appoint the next justice.
“Any party, toward the end of a term, would fight for the chance that a like minded executive might be on his way to appoint a sympathetic justice. The GOP needs a voice that will seek to uphold a conservative (here meaning cautious and respectful, not simply ‘right wing’) interpretation of a document too often ‘interpreted’ to the point of irrelevance,” Newswire columnist Griff Bludworth said.
“I think its up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it,” Republican Front-runner Donald Trump said. “It’s called delay, delay, delay.”
“They may also try to claim Thurmond’s Rule, which does not allow the president to appoint a justice in the last six months of his presidency,” Hohl said. “They are claiming that now, which does not come in to effect until July 20.”
Thurmond’s Rule is an unwritten rule used by the U.S. Senate to deter presidents from appointing Supreme Court justices in the last six months of their term. The rule is not universally accepted and is often dismissed by the current president’s party.
The Supreme Court began session again on Monday and most likely will end in deadlock, as the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association appears this spring.