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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Republican U.S. Senate candidates join calls to scuttle Obama's Supreme Court nominee

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at an Oct. 15, 2006, ACLU conference in Washington. The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed Saturday that Scalia had died at the age of 79.

[Associated Press]

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at an Oct. 15, 2006, ACLU conference in Washington. The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed Saturday that Scalia had died at the age of 79.



Three candidates for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat are joining the ranks of conservatives calling on the chamber to delay confirming a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court until after the presidential election in November.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, and Orlando defense contractor Todd Wilcox told the Times/Herald that the Senate has a responsibility to deny Obama appointees in hopes that a Republican will win the presidency and the party will keep its majority in Congress’ upper chamber in the November election.

“President Obama has shown a track record which has a complete disregard of the Constitution,” Lopez-Cantera said in a statement. “His extreme liberal choices of Supreme Court justices are proof that the United States Senate should not approve a Supreme Court justice until there is a new president who abides by the Constitution that Justice Scalia honored so well.”

“Senators should block any effort to confirm a nominee to fill this vacancy until the American people have an opportunity to put conservatives who, like Justice Scalia, understand the wisdom of our Founding Fathers and adhere to the written words of the Constitution,” Wilcox said in a statement. “Control of all three branches of government are now at stake in the 2016 election cycle.”

"Justice Scalia's death puts constitutional issues front and center in the 2016 election and his replacement should be nominated by the next President," DeSantis said in a statement.

Scalia, 79, died unexpectedly Saturday, leaving a vacancy on the high court. The Ronald Reagan appointee was among the court’s most conservative members, authoring colorful dissents on notable cases legalizing same-sex marriage and upholding President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.

With one of the court’s nine seats open, it falls to Obama to nominate a replacement and on the Republican-controlled Senate to confirm a nominee. But GOP leaders — including Republican candidates for president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — say the Senate should not confirm an Obama nominee.

U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, did not say whether or not he believes the Senate should approve Obama’s pick, but he doesn’t anticipate that a confirmation will happen before a new president is sworn in next January.

“If the president is realistic about successfully appointing a new justice during his final year in office, the reality is he will need to identify a candidate that meets the approval of the Republican Senate,” Jolly said in a statement. “Short of that, I don’t anticipate a nominee will be approved prior to the November elections.”

Democrats, unsurprisingly, are urging the president to move forward. Already, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, also a candidate for U.S. Senate has sent emails campaigning on the issue.

“In an unprecedented move, McConnell is already promising to obstruct the constitutional process and President Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee,” a Monday morning Murphy campaign email reads. “It is a complete — and disgraceful — abdication of his constitutional responsibility.”

Obama said this weekend that he will appoint a nominee to the court.

[Last modified: Monday, February 15, 2016 5:17pm]


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