Clinton slams Republicans' "outrageous" obstruction on Scalia's replacement: Obama is president "like it or not"

"Elections have consequences"

By Sophia Tesfaye
Published February 14, 2016 10:56AM (UTC)
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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a town hall meeting at Denmark Olar Elementary School in Denmark, S.C., Friday Feb. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (AP)

With Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail nakedly politicizing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's passing on Saturday, Hillary Clinton asserted that it is President Obama's prerogative to nominate a successor, slamming Republicans who "dishonor our Constitution" with demands the President refrain from selecting Scalia's replacement.

Minutes before Republican presidential candidates gathered for their debate in South Carolina Saturday night, President Obama delivered a statement on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing, vowing to nominate his own successor.


“I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time.”

While the Republican candidates defended their demands that Obama either not nominate a successor or the Senate block any eventual nominee, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released a statement slamming Republicans in the Senate like Mitch McConnell who "dishonor our Constitution" by calling for Justice Scalia's seat to remain vacant.

"The Senate has a constitutional responsibility that it cannot abdicate for partisan political reasons," Clinton said, echoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid who called McConnell's statement that Scalia's vacant seat be filled by the next president, a "shameful abdication of our constitutional responsibility":

Speaking at a Colorado Democrats dinner in Denver, Clinton went even further in her critique of Republicans' ridiculous demand.

"It's outrageous that Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail have already pledged to block any [Supreme Court] replacement that President Obama nominates."


"Let me just make one point," Clinton said to the room of Democrats. "Barack Obama is President of the United States until January 20, 2017—that is a fact, whether the Republicans like it or not."

"Elections have consequences," she continued.

Clinton explained that "the president has a responsibility to nominate a new justice" and argued that "the Senate has a responsibility to vote," calling McConnell's statement "very disappointing."


Clinton also took direct aim at Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, alluding to his (and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Chuck Grassley's) misleading claim that the Senate has not confirmed a Supreme Court nominee during an election year in 80 years.

"But the confirmation for Justice Kennedy took place in 1988, that was an election year, and he was confirmed 97 to nothing," Clinton shot back as CBS debate moderator John Dickerson pointed out that same fact to Cruz during the debate.


Republicans' demands on Scalia's replacement are "totally out of step with our history and constitutional principals," Clinton said.

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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