Presidential races

Vulnerable Senate Republicans back push to delay nominee

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A handful of politically vulnerable Senate Republicans are supporting a push to delay moving forward with a new Supreme Court nominee until after the presidential election. 

Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Pat Toomey (Pa.)— all from Democratic-leaning states —each suggested separately over the weekend that President Obama’s successor should fill the seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.
{mosads}”Given that we are already well into the presidential election process and that the Supreme Court appointment is for a lifetime, it makes sense to give the American people a more direct say in this critical decision,” Toomey said in a statement Monday. “The next Court appointment should be made by the newly-elected president.”
Ayotte echoed his comments, adding that Senate “should not move forward with the confirmation process until the American people have spoken by electing a new president.”
The four senators — as well as Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who has remained tight-lipped since Scalia’s death — are the GOP’s most vulnerable incumbents, putting them at the center of the battle for Senate control.
Republicans have rallied around the push to delay consideration of a Supreme Court nominee after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said hours after Scalia’s death was announced that the vacancy “should not be filled until we have a new president.”
The push all but guarantees a battle ahead with Obama, who has said he intends to nominate someone and pressured the Senate to hold a vote.
McConnell, who has to defend 24 Senate seats, has tried to underscore that Republicans can govern going into the elections, however. 
Other senators up for reelection this year — including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — have backed McConnell’s strategy, as have several GOP presidential candidates.
They hope that delaying a nomination would allow a potential Republican president to pick a successor for Scalia, long considered a conservative pillar on the Supreme Court. 
But the move has already riled Democrats, who have repeatedly slammed Republicans over the pace of judicial nominations, and outside groups. They argue that Republicans are neglecting their constitutional duties by trying to leave a Supreme Court seat vacant for roughly a year.  
“The most vulnerable GOP incumbents have fallen in line to support this unprecedented obstruction of the constitutional process,” Lauren Passalacqua, the national press secretary for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement. “This is a disservice to their constituents and to the Constitution they swore an oath to uphold.”
Scalia, 79, died during a vacation at a Texas hunting resort over the weekend.
Tags Chuck Grassley John McCain Kelly Ayotte Mark Kirk Mitch McConnell Richard Burr Rob Portman Ron Johnson

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