Alito: Supreme Court can ‘deal’ with even number of justices

Supreme Court Justice Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoMitch McConnell is terrible but John Roberts is actually the worst Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses On The Trail: Why 2020 is the most important election in our lifetime MORE Tuesday evening said that the nation's highest court is capable of functioning without an immediate replacement for his late colleague, Antonin Scalia.

“There’s nothing in the Constitution that specifies the size of the Supreme Court,” Alito told listeners at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., according to The New York Times.


“There were times in the history of the court when the court had an even number of justices. They must have been more agreeable in those days. We will deal with it.”

Alito said that the court is still reeling from Scalia’s sudden death, which left an evenly split eight justices.

“What’s happened in the last week has been a great shock to us,” he said. "We just started back in business hearing arguments yesterday. We’ll see what develops.”

Alito then demurred when asked what type of candidate would be worthy to replace Scalia.

“We don’t choose our colleagues,” he said. "Presidents choose. I have enough trouble with the questions that I have to decide.”

The justice said, however, that it could prove beneficial to nominate a sitting judge for the vacancy.

“Given the way interviews with senators occur beginning immediately on the announcement of the nomination, it’s very difficult for somebody who has not been dealing with the whole breadth of federal law that may come before the Supreme Court to be ready for those issues,” Alito said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Republicans announced Tuesday that they will not hold hearings or a vote on any nominee presented by President Obama.

Their Democratic counterparts, meanwhile, argued that a hearing is essential, pointing to a constitutional obligation for replacing justices as quickly as possible.

Scalia’s death earlier this month has sparked an election-year fight over whether Obama can replace him before leaving the Oval Office or if that decision belongs to his successor.