GOP presidential candidates are insisting they should have the opportunity to nominate Scalia’s replacement after they take back the White House, while both Democrats are urging Pres. Obama to carry out his constitutional duty to nominate a successor to fill the vacancy.
Sen. Pat Toomey waded into the debate on Tuesday, guaranteeing an Obama nominee would be rejected by the Senate. His comments prompted heated backlash from his Democratic challengers earlier in the week, but he’s at it again.
Toomey said he believed the American people should play a role in the process, by allowing the next president to nominate a ninth justice to the nation’s highest court.
“I think the question before us now is…should the outgoing president fundamentally change the balance of the Court for the next one or two generations?” Toomey told Marc Levy of the AP Thursday. “I don’t think that’s reasonable. I think that it’s more reasonable for the American people to have a more direct say in that process, which they will do through the election of the president knowing now with certainty that the next president is going to make this really important pick.”
Toomey said a vacancy on the Supreme Court for the next 11 months would not be “that big a deal,” while arguing the confirmation process could be tainted by the impending presidential election.
“It’s very unlikely that any nominee, however well qualified, could reach the level that would be necessary to satisfy both sets of criteria,” Toomey said. “And for that reason, it might be just as well not to have a hearing that would, sort of, might mislead the American people into thinking that this is just about the qualifications of the candidate, because it’s bigger than that.”
Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak hit back after Toomey’s statements seemed to confirm that the GOP-controlled Senate would be unable to keep party politics out of the confirmation process in Obama’s lame-duck final year.
“Pat Toomey could not be more wrong,” Sestak said. “Weighing a nominee’s qualifications is precisely what hearings are meant for, not at all the partisan political weighing of whether the nominee is from a president of a particular party.”
Sabrina Singh, Communications Director for Democrat Katie McGinty’s Senate campaign, called Toomey’s statement a “stunning” admission that the confirmation process would be political.
“He boldly admits that this is a political calculation by Senate Republicans and that their ultimate goal is to appoint a justice that aligns with their radical ideology that would overturn a woman’s right to choose, keep dark money in politics and take healthcare away from millions of Americans,” Singh said.
Finally, the Fetterman camp weighed in.
“This is just another failure of leadership by Toomey who clearly prefers to have the balance of the court determined by Ted Cruz or another passenger in the Republican clown car that is currently their presidential field.”