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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican Party on Monday stepped up its fight against any Supreme Court nominee put forward by President Barack Obama while the president’s allies hit back against a conservative group’s attack on a judge who had been considered for the job.

The Republican Party’s move to create a task force to coordinate advertising and other steps to assail Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy left by the Feb. 13 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia is the latest indication that the political fight could become very nasty.

“It’s clear what Republicans are planning to do,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “They are planning to tear down the president’s nominee, without regard to who that person is.”

The Republican National Committee said the task force will contract and team up with America Rising Squared, a conservative group, in the effort.

“This will be the most comprehensive judicial response effort in our party’s history,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

“If the president wants to break with decades of precedent by pushing through a nominee in an election year, we’re going to vet that person and put their real record on display,” Priebus said.

Earnest declined to say when Obama would announce his choice to fill the vacancy, beyond saying it would not be on Monday.

The Republicans who control the Senate have vowed not to hold confirmation hearings or an up-or-down vote on anyone Obama picks, saying the choice should belong to the next president who takes office in January after the Nov. 8 presidential election.

The nomination requires Senate confirmation.


High Stakes

The stakes are high, as Obama’s selection could pivot the nine-member court to the left for the first time in decades.

In an interview with CNN Espanol that aired on Monday, Obama said he will make his decision “soon.” He said he is looking for someone with “impeccable credentials” who “should be a consensus candidate.”

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid denounced on the Senate floor what he called a “smear” campaign against federal appeals court judge Jane Kelly, who had been on Obama’s short list of potential nominees.

Sources familiar with the selection process said on Friday Kelly was not among the final three under consideration, federal appeals court judges Sri Srinivasan, Merrick Garland and Paul Watford.

Reid was referring to an ad campaign mounted by a conservative activist group called the Judicial Crisis Network referring to Kelly as a “a liberal extremist” with a “disturbing background.” It cited her prior work as a public defender in Iowa for a man charged with possessing child pornography who was later convicted of first-degree murder and sexual assault in the death of his former girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter.

The group, in a news release, called the ads the next phase of its “national campaign to educate and inform the public about what’s at stake in filling the Supreme Court vacancy.”

Reid referred to the group as “a dark money, right-wing political organization that operates in total secrecy.”

“The accusations leveled against Judge Kelly are despicable,” Reid said, calling on Iowa’s U.S. senators including Republican Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee who in the past praised Kelly, to denounce to the group’s charges.

The Senate voted to confirm Kelly to her current position in 2013 in a 96-0 vote.

Obama administration lawyers continued to review the legal opinions of three finalists, weighing whether elements could become a flashpoint for opponents on the right or even the left. The current finalists generally are considered more moderate than liberals in the tradition of Obama’s two previous appointments, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.



(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Jeff Mason, Lawrence Hurley and Eric Beech; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Bernard Orr)

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama carries a binder containing material on potential Supreme Court nominees as he walks towards the residence of the White House in Washington February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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20 responses to “Republican Party Gears Up To Fight Obama Court Nominee”

  1. charleo1 says:

    So the Constitution says, The President will appoint SCOUS with the advice, and consent of the Senate. Except, and I’m pretty sure this is in there somewhere. When that President is of a Party other than that Party that is running the Senate. Or if that President in question has during any of his terms, already sat at least one Judge. Or, if a Judge dies, or quits after that within, oh, about a year or so from the next Presidential election. The seat will remain vacant so as to give the other Party a fair crack at packing the Court in their favor. Because as any Constitutional scholar will tell you, the Framers wanted the Supreme Court to be as politically charged branch of the Federal Government as either the Executive, or the Legislative Branches. In fact, the more political the appointments, the better, has been the consensus since the grand Republic’s beginnings. This, according to my sources, which are never wrong. So don’t even start with me on this! I know the Constitution, I’m a literalists! Got it?

    • I of John says:

      The hypocracy behind blocking any and all nominees, is staggering.

      • dpaano says:

        Especially when the two that President Obama is tentatively thinking of putting forth for the position are as nonpartisan as you can get, which should make the Republicans reasonably happy. AND, both of them have already been vetted and accepted, so there should be no problem choosing one of them. For some strange reason, the GOP seem to think they have a good chance of winning the presidency, but they may find out that this isn’t going to happen. Once it does happen, they might not be as happy with the new president’s choices as they would be with the ones President Obama is considering. It might be in their best interest to pick one of them rather than wait to see what happens when the new Democratic president takes the reins. They might not be as happy then….and I don’t think they can block the replacement for 4 years without causing major problems for themselves!

      • charleo1 says:

        I agree. The Right’s tolerance for hypocrisy is staggering.

  2. latebloomingrandma says:

    Silly me. I never realized before that when we vote for a President, it’s only for a term of 3 years.

  3. Lynda Groom says:

    How dare a sitting President do his Constitutional duty during an election year. Doesn’t he understand that the Senate is far too busy to actually take part in the process. Especially as outlined in the Constitution that spells out their responsibility. Phonies, frauds and liars…each and every one.

  4. Otto T. Goat says:

    “There are some who believe that the president, having won the election, should have complete authority to appoint his nominee…that once you get beyond intellect and personal character, there should be no further question as to whether the judge should be confirmed. I disagree with this view.” – Senator B. Hussein Obama.

  5. Otto T. Goat says:

    “We should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, except in extraordinary circumstances.” Senator (((Chuck Schumer))).

  6. browninghipower says:

    I certainly hope the coming destruction of the GOP is complete and withering. Since Reagan they have brazenly done everything possible to destroy the government and social fabric of America and have nearly succeeded. It will take decades to repair the damage these traitors have wrought. But history is pendulum and it’s an immutable force that only arrogant clowns like the GOP think they can mold and shape to their liking. Too bad. History is littered with the garbage of the likes such as them. It is only a matter of time, unfortunately. But their days are numbered.

  7. dpaano says:

    Choosing a replacement for a Supreme Court Justice should NOT be based on “precedent,” but on the Constitution. There is NOTHING in the Constitution that says that a president, in his last year in office, does not have the right to choose a Supreme Court Justice! Precedent be damned! The Republican party needs to get off their butts and do their jobs…..that’s what they’re getting paid to do…..not blocking anything that the current President proposes! From what I understand, the two tentative choices of President Obama are nonpartisan and should be good choices for BOTH parties, but because of the GOP’s usual blocking of everything Obama…..nothing will happen. The biggest problem they are going to have once the new Democratic president is elected is trying to block ANY nominations that person might put forth…..and they might not be as nonpartisan as the ones President Obama is considering! This might go against their wishes if they choose to wait and HOPE that a Republican is nominated as president.

    • johninPCFL says:

      Even if thy went on precedent, Reagan got his justice confirmed in his last year. This has nothing to do with precedent, it’s just another way to shut down THIS president.

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