Republicans back down in ongoing Supreme Court nomination battle

By Madeleine Longwell
Staff Writer

Mitch McConnell, looking somewhat displeased
Photo: Associated Press

Republicans appear to be backing down on their staunch refusal to hold confirmation hearings if a new Supreme Court justice is nominated.

After the death of Justice Scalia earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated he did not intend to allow hearings for the appointment of a new justice until after the 2016 presidential election.

Though McConnell received some Republican support for his stance, many politicians on both sides criticized his decision. With nearly a year left in office, President Obama still has the Constitutional power to nominate a new Supreme Court justice.

Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has already appointed two justices to the Court. The vacancy created by Justice Scalia eliminates the conservative majority previously held and opens up the opportunity for a new, liberal majority.

President Obama has not yet made an official nomination and many names are being discussed  as possibilities. At the top of the list is Sri Srinivasan, a circuit judge for the Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. Srinivasan was confirmed to his current position by the Senate in a 97-0 vote in 2013 and is noted for his moderate ideology.

Strategically, nominating a moderate candidate appears to make the most sense for President Obama.

If a candidate is not nominated or appointed before November, the implications of the 2016 election certainly carry more weight.

To many, Republican attempts to push hearings until after the election suggest overconfidence in the idea that the Republican candidate will win in November. Until then, Democrats are continuing to push for a nomination and hearings, largely through public pressure to adhere to the Constitution.