News / USA

    Political Split Hardens on Supreme Court Vacancy

    President Barack Obama meets with, from left, Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, in the Oval Office of the White House, March 1, 2016, to discuss the vacancy in the Supreme Court.
    President Barack Obama meets with, from left, Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, in the Oval Office of the White House, March 1, 2016, to discuss the vacancy in the Supreme Court.
    Mary Alice Salinas

    U.S. President Barack Obama and key Republican senators ended brief talks at the White House on Tuesday firmly at odds over who should fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
     
    Obama conferred with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley in the Oval Office, along with leading members of his Democratic Party - Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Patrick Leahy.

    The normal differences of opinion between the two main U.S. political parties on a Supreme Court nomination have taken on a new intensity this year because it is expected a new justice would tip the court's ideological balance in either a conservative or liberal direction. And the specifics of when and how the Senate should consider a new nomination are complicated by the fact this is a U.S. presidential election year.

    Obama, who will remain in office until late January 2017, says it is his constitutional responsibility to choose a Supreme Court nominee promptly, and that the Republican-controlled Senate is obligated to hold confirmation hearings on his pick. Many Republicans insist the court vacancy must not be filled until after the November election, and they have said they will not consider - nor even hold informal meetings with - whoever Obama nominates.

    The meeting was a good opportunity for Republicans to "reiterate that this appointment should be made by the next president," said McConnell.

    "This vacancy will not be filled this year,” insisted the Senate majority leader.  “We will look forward to the American people, who they want to make this appointment through their own votes."

    Democratic Senators Reid and Leahy accused Republicans of trying to politicize the nation’s high court.
     
    Although Republicans are “adamant” that they will not hold hearings, Reid said, under the U.S. Constitution the Senate is “obligated to hold hearings [and] they are obligated to vote” for or against the president's choice for the high court.

    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about a Supreme Court nominee from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Feb. 24, 2016.
    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about a Supreme Court nominee from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Feb. 24, 2016.

    Reid said the party leaders' meeting in the Oval Office was “very short,” but Obama made clear to the Republicans that he will consider any judicial candidate they propose to him.
     
    Leahy said the Republicans' tactics will not affect Senate Democrats. “We are not going to play their game of obstruction," he said. "We are going to do our jobs like we’re supposed to.”
     
    Republicans contend that Obama should not make an appointment to the Supreme Court - a lifetime position - during his final year as president, and that he should instead leave the task to his successor, who will take power in 2017.
     
    The White House says the president has spent a significant amount of time reviewing potential nominees, but the list of potential candidates still is not finalized. Administration officials note that Obama spent about 30 days selecting his nominee on the two previous occasions when a Supreme Court vacancy occurred during his administration.
     
    Spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House is open to future consultations with Republicans who want to engage “seriously” about filling the vacancy.
     
    “I can tell you that the offer was not a one-time-only offer” Earnest told reporters at a briefing after Tuesday’s meeting. “The next move would be for Republicans to avail themselves to consult with the president if they choose to do so.“
     
    Meanwhile, Earnest said, the White House will “push forward” to select a Supreme Court nominee.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: dolphins killing whales
    March 01, 2016 1:23 PM
    Republicans! "We hate the Constitution let's not follow it!"

    by: Jim Williams from: Medford
    March 01, 2016 1:13 PM
    Um...It's beginning to look like maybe the Democratic Senators need to filibuster Obama's pick.....

    by: Joe Smor
    March 01, 2016 1:10 PM
    So the president's term is only three years now?

    by: Annie R from: Atlanta
    March 01, 2016 1:10 PM
    Scary how the GOP has been allowed to play politics with our futures and get away with it. I saw throw all the bums out who suddenly after decades in some cases don't think our President gets to nominate a supreme court justice and the Senate gets to decide. When are we going to call these guys out for sedition?
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 01, 2016 10:27 PM
    Hey Annie _ The checks and balances of the US government are written by the founding fathers in the constitution of the United States, and no matter if you like it or not, they made sure that congress had the final say on how and when the presidents choice for federal judges would be approved? .. Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court won't be interviewed, nor will his nomination come to the Senate floor for approval, all done by the constitution? .. No matter what Obama says?

    by: Biff Tannen from: Hill Valley
    March 01, 2016 1:05 PM
    Obama is the one attempting to hold hostage an entire branch of government? Is Grassley insane?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora