Rubio defends GOP decision to block nominee: 'Elections have consequences'

Getty Images

Marco RubioMarco RubioRubio: Clinton-Lynch meeting ‘raises all sorts of red flags’ Which GOP pols will actually attend the convention? Poll: Rubio holds massive lead in primary MORE on Wednesday argued that Republicans have the right to block President Obama's efforts to fill Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's vacant seat thanks to a mandate from voters after the party won back the Senate in 2014.

"They say elections have consequences," the GOP presidential candidate said in South Carolina about those who argue the president has the constitutional right to fill the vacancy.

ADVERTISEMENT
"Elections have consequences, and we won the majority in the Senate in 2014."
Rubio added that "people have this idea in some corners of the political debate that the president is the supreme leader" and that Congress is supposed to "nod our heads and say, 'Yes Mr. President, we're going to go your direction.'"
 
"Our system of government, we need to get back to what it was designed as," he said, of a system where Congress makes the legislative calls and the president executes its will.
 
He also nodded at Scalia's "originalist" interpretation of Constitution by arguing that the Supreme Court should decide through that prism. 
 
"Then you have a judicial branch that decides whether or not it violates the Constitution as originally drafted. What is the original meaning of the Constitution and then you apply it, not recreate it," he said. 
 
"We have to get back to those principles. I will."

The senator's comments come as Republican Senate leaders posture against confirming the president's nominee.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellCongress fails on promises to restore regular order and stop funding by crisis Overnight Healthcare: Dems dig in over Zika funding Business groups ramp up pressure to fill Ex-Im board MORE (Ky.) drew a line in the sand shortly after Scalia's death on Saturday with a statement that argued that the "American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice" by voting in the 2016 elections. Most Republican senators, including Rubio and fellow presidential candidate Ted CruzTed CruzThe Hill's 12:30 Report Trump hires Florida chief strategist, new pollster Lynch pressured to recuse herself after Clinton tarmac meeting MORE, have backed that call.

The president's nominee would need to pass a 60-point threshold in the Senate for confirmation. With a 54-seat majority, however, a unified Republican front can block any pick. 

But Democrats have pushed back, arguing that the president should not be denied an appointee with almost a year remaining in his term.

More in Senate races

GOP rep sets date for Florida Senate decision with eye on Rubio

Read more »