Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) responded to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Saturday evening by asserting that the next President must be the one to choose the next Justice.
In a statement, McConnell expressed his condolences for the Scalia's family saying “our country lost an unwavering champion of a timeless document that unites each of us as Americans,” adding:
“Justice Scalia's fidelity to the Constitution was rivaled only by the love of his family: his wife Maureen his nine children, and his many grandchildren. Through the sheer force of his intellect and his legendary wit, this giant of American jurisprudence almost singlehandedly revived an approach to constitutional interpretation that prioritized the text and original meaning of the Constitution. Elaine and I send our deepest condolences to the entire Scalia family.”
But on the subject of how to move forward with Scalia's replacement, McConnell supports the Senate biding its time on confirming a potential nomination by President Obama.
At the end of his statement, McConnell called for the successor to President Obama to pick the next Justice:
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called for the opposite reaction to the court's empty seat.
Reid issued a statement of condolence for the Scalia family and the passing of the textualist Justice and calling him a brilliant man. But on the steps to move forward with the nomination process, Reid's statement read:
“The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away. With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible. It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”
While each party's top Senators each conveyed their utmost condolences for Scalia's family, it appears the Senate is in for a long fight should the President send a nomination.