President Obama on Tuesday responded to demands by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans that he forego a Supreme Court nomination following the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Obama — speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Leaders Summit in California— extended "heartfelt condolences" to the family of Scalia, whom he called, "a giant on the Supreme Court."
Asked what he would do if McConnell blocked his SCOTUS nominee:
"The Constitution is pretty clear about what's supposed to happen now: When there's a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the President of the United States is to nominate someone. The senate is to consider that nomination and either they disapprove of that nominee or that nominee is elevated to the Supreme Court.
"Historically, this has not been viewed as a question."
"I'm amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there," Obama continued, with an overt jab at Republican lawmakers who've bended over backwards in the days following Scalia's death to deny the President his Constitutional duty to appoint Supreme Court justices.
"We've almost gotten accustomed to how obstructionist the Senate has become when it comes to nominations," Obama added. "In some ways, this argument is just an extension of what we've seen in the Senate, generally."
That said, Obama suggested, "This would be a good moment for us to rise above" gridlock and obstructionism on Capitol Hill.
Regardless of anticipated resistance from the right, Obama said he intends "to nominate, in due time, a very well-qualified candidate. If we are following basic precedent, then that nominee will be presented before the committees, the vote will be taken and, ultimately, they will be confirmed."