News / USA

    Biden: Supreme Court Pick Must be 'Consensus' Choice

    FILE - Flowers are seen as a woman stands in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. after the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Feb. 14, 2016. Many Senate Republicans say Obama, a Democrat, should not nominate someone to fill Scalia's seat.
    FILE - Flowers are seen as a woman stands in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. after the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Feb. 14, 2016. Many Senate Republicans say Obama, a Democrat, should not nominate someone to fill Scalia's seat.
    VOA News

    U.S. President Barack Obama cannot pick "the most liberal jurist" to replace the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday, providing the first hint into the White House strategy on the matter.

    "In order to get this done, the president is not going to be able to go out - nor would it be his instinct, anyway - to pick the most liberal jurist in the nation and put them on the court," Vice President Biden told Minnesota Public Radio.

    "There are plenty of judges who are on high courts already who have had unanimous support of the Republicans. This should be someone who, in fact, is a consensus and whereby we can generate enough support to get a person passed," he added.

    Many Senate Republicans say Obama, a Democrat, should not nominate someone to fill Scalia's seat. They think that should instead be done by the next president, who takes office in January 2017.

    Majority leader Mitch McConnell, who is responsible for scheduling the Senate's business, has already said there will be no confirmation hearings to approve or reject an Obama nominee.

    Obama is pushing ahead anyway. Earlier Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama has started talking to senior members of his team and intends to nominate someone quickly.

    "In recent history, we have not had a Supreme Court vacancy that has spanned two Supreme Court terms," Earnest said. "So the president certainly wants to move promptly so that the United States Senate can do the same in giving his nominee a fair hearing and a timely yes or no vote."

    Repeating the words of the president, Earnest said the Senate is obligated to consider a new justice.

    "The real question that the American people have... is whether or not the United States Senate is going to fulfill their basic constitutional responsibility. And I think the American people, including those who are going to cast a vote in 2016, will be watching," he said.

    FILE - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
    FILE - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

    Efforts to replace Scalia have devolved into a massive political dogfight, involving a wide array of interest groups on all sides of the U.S. political spectrum.

    Scalia's rulings generally satisfied conservatives. His death left the court with four conservatives and four liberals, meaning the next justice's vote will likely change the court's balance of power.

    Thousands of mourners will pay their respects to Scalia Friday when his body lies in repose inside the Supreme Court. The public will be allowed to pass by the casket after a private ceremony.

    Vice President Joe Biden will represent the White House at Saturday's funeral.

    Scalia died in his sleep last Saturday. He was 79 years old and the longest-serving justice on the high court.

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