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Senate Republicans still refuse to consider high court nominee; Obama claims hypocrisy

"Any nominee submitted in the middle of this presidential campaign isn’t getting confirmed," Sen. Charles Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said Thursday. "The White House knows it."
By Doug G. Ware   |   Updated March 10, 2016 at 8:56 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans on Thursday reiterated their opposition to President Barack Obama nominating a judge to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee addressed the topic once again Thursday, openly stating that they won't support a nomination to the high court until Obama leaves office.

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The committee chair, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, again cited remarks made in 1992 by then Sen. Joe Biden, the committee chair at the time, that Democrats wouldn't welcome a nomination from former President George Bush in an election year.

"Some have tried to recast what Joe Biden said to give it an entirely different meaning," Grassley said Thursday. "Why this charade? Why all this outrage about a hearing?"

Grassley added that he is confident the Republicans' position is "the right thing to do," and stated explicitly that "any nominee submitted in the middle of this presidential campaign isn't getting confirmed.

"The White House knows it. Senate Democrats know it. Republicans know it. Even the press knows it."

The dialogue, though, drew sharp criticism from Senate Democrats who accused the GOP lawmakers of shirking their constitutional responsibility.

The procession during the funeral mass for the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on February 20, 2016. Pool Photo by Doug Mills/UPI

"The fact is we have taken action every time there has been a Supreme Court vacancy," Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the panel's senior Democrat, replied. "We have always done the hearings and had the votes when there's a Supreme Court vacancy."

Obama responded to Thursday's Senate clash by repeating his assertion that the Constitution clearly states a nomination should be made -- and that Republicans opposing such a move are behaving in a hypocritical manner.

"I find it ironic that people who are constantly citing the Constitution would suddenly read into the Constitution requirements, norms, procedures that are nowhere to be found there," the president said. "That's precisely the kinds of interpretive approach that they have vehemently rejected and that they accused liberals of engaging in all the time. Well, you can't abandon your principles -- if, in fact, these are your principles -- simply for the sake of political expedience."

Despite Republican resistance, Obama has said he will submit a nominee to the Supreme Court in the coming months.

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