election year Supreme Court vacancies



By Miriam Raftery

February 13, 2016 (Washington D.C.) – The sudden death of prominent conservative Justice Antonin Scalia today leaves a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court and the prospect of numerous high-profile cases deadlocking 4-4.  President Barack Obama has announced he intends to appoint a replacement, but  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested any nomination would be blocked by Senate Republicans and stated that in this election year,  Obama should leave nominating a Supreme Court justice for the next administration.

McConnell’s remark may be viewed as hypocritical, since he voted for Republican President Ronald Reagan’s appointment of Justice Anthony Kennedy in an election year.  Kennedy was confirmed by the Senate, which was controlled by Democrats.

In fact, since 1900 there has not been a single case of the Senate refusing to confirm a presidential appointment to the Supreme Court in an election year due to the pending election. The stakes are high for both sides in filling the void left by Scalia, but so are the consequences of leaving a seat vacant for nearly a year.

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