Four of the five most vulnerable Republican senators up for re-election this November backed the suggestion of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell(R, Ky.) that President Obama should hold off nominating a replacement to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia until after the election.
As RealClearPolitics reported,
Rob Portman of Ohio, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania – all representing states President Obama won in 2012 and among the incumbents most-targeted by Democrats – said the nomination should wait until 2017.
This decision is telling, because these Republicans stand the most at risk of losing their Senate seats. If these four, along with Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, lose their races this November, the Senate will flip into Democrat hands, and even if a Republican becomes president next year, gridlock on a Supreme Court nomination and confirmation is likely to continue.
“I believe the best thing for the country is to trust the American people to weigh in on who should make a lifetime appointment that could reshape the Supreme Court for generations,” Ohio Senator Rob Portman said in a statement Monday.
Both of the Democrats vying to face Portman in November — former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld — attacked this position. Sittenfield declared that Portman “abandoned his constitutional duties” by calling for a delay to the nomination, and that he is “shirking his responsibilities to our nation.”
Senate Republicans are consistent in their message that nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year would be a violation of 80 years of tradition. Even the most vulnerable senators are standing firm for this tradition, despite the fact that they might not be in the chamber when the next president would make the decision on who should replace Scalia.
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