In a news conference Tuesday, President Barack Obama vowed to name an “indisputably” qualified Supreme Court nominee, staking out a clear position after Republicans argued that the replacement of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died over the weekend, should be left to the next president, CNN reported.
"The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now," Obama said during the news conference, which occurred at the close of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California.
Obama said he was amused to hear people who describe themselves as “strict interpreters” of the U.S. Constitution dispute the idea that he has the right to get a hearing for a Supreme Court nominee.
"This is the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. It's the one court where we would expect elected officials to rise above day-to-day politics. And this will be the opportunity for senators to do their job," said Obama. "Your job doesn't stop until you're voted out or until your term expires. I intend to do my job between now and Jan. 20 of 2017. I expect them to do their job as well."
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 16, 2016
Scalia, 79, was found dead of natural causes Saturday in Texas. Following his death, Republicans — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — argued that the vacancy should not be filled until the U.S. has a new president and swore to block any nomination by Obama. Meanwhile, Democrats asserted that Scalia’s seat must be filled right away.
The White House said Sunday that Obama will not hurry to nominate a successor to Scalia but will instead do so after the Senate returns from its recess Feb. 22.