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No Breakthrough In Supreme Court Dispute Between Obama, Republicans

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No Breakthrough In Supreme Court Dispute Between Obama, Republicans

U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd R) meets with the bipartisan leaders of the Senate to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, at the White House in Washington March 1, 2016. From L-R: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Vice President Joe Biden, Obama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican leaders of the Senate on Tuesday rebuffed President Barack Obama’s appeal for hearings and a vote on his U.S. Supreme Court nominee during a face-to-face meeting that failed to budge them from their vow to block any nominee he offers.

Obama, planning to name a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia in the coming weeks, huddled with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley in the White House Oval Office for less than an hour.

“Senator Grassley and I made it clear that we don’t intend to take up a nominee or to have a hearing,” McConnell told reporters after the meeting.

The meeting failed to produce any progress on how to proceed with finding a replacement for Scalia, a long-serving conservative justice who died on Feb. 13.

McConnell and Grassley are insistent that Obama not pick a nominee and leave the decision to his successor, who takes office next January after the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election. Obama is insistent that it is the Republican-led Senate’s constitutional duty to act on his nominee.

“They made clear in their meeting with the president that they’re not going to change their mind just because the president says so,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said of the Republicans.

Earnest said Obama still believes it was worthwhile to consult with the lawmakers before making his nomination.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said Obama stated during the meeting he would be willing to consider candidates for the Supreme Court proposed by the Republicans, but McConnell and Grassley offered no names.

“We killed a lot of time talking about basketball and other stuff,” said Reid, who attended along with the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, Patrick Leahy.

Under the Constitution, the president nominates Supreme Court justices and the Senate must confirm them. Without Scalia, the court has four conservative and four liberal justices, meaning any potential Obama nominee could tip the court to the left for the first time in decades.

McConnell and Grassley have said allowing the next president to pick the new justice would let voters have a say in the selection when they elect a new president.

“Whether everybody in the meeting today wanted to admit it, we all know that considering a nomination in the middle of a heated presidential campaign is bad for the nominee, bad for the court, bad for the process and ultimately bad for the nation,” Grassley said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Will Dunham)

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd R) meets with the bipartisan leaders of the Senate to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, at the White House in Washington March 1, 2016. From L-R: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Vice President Joe Biden, Obama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). REUTERS/Yuri Gripas



  1. AlfredSonny March 2, 2016

    If they say that the responsibilities of the President dissolve one year before the end of his term, does it mean that the responsibilities of ALL legislators dissolve before the end of their terms, too? If so, shouldn’t their last year paychecks be paid back to the taxpayers?

    1. dpaano March 2, 2016

      I think they owe us for the entire 7+ years that they’ve sat in their seats and done absolutely nothing except name a couple of post offices!!! It’s pretty embarrassing, and if I were a Republican (heaven forbid at this day and age), I would be embarrassed as hell!!! They have done NOTHING this entire administration and they wonder why their confidence rating is in the single digits!!! Some people are aware of their BS, and we can only hope that most of them will be replaced this year!

  2. AlfredSonny March 2, 2016

    If the President’s responsibilites dissolve during the last year of his term, does it mean that the responsibilities of all legislators dissolve during the last year of their terms, too? If so, does it mean that one third of the Senators no longer can vote because they are in the last year of their terms? Does this also mean that all Representatives no longer can vote this year because they all are in the last year of their terms? In reality, McConnell and his cronies are embarrassing me as an American!

    1. dpaano March 2, 2016

      They are laughable to say the least! I totally agree with your response….but, they don’t see it that way. They’ve decided, as I said, from Day 1 that this president would NOT be allowed to do anything of any consequence for the American people, and they’ve done a great job of blocking everything that has been put forth that would HELP the middle class….not sure why the middle class can’t understand that the problem is with the legislative and judicial branches of the government, NOT the executive branch!!!

      1. indiokie March 2, 2016

        I still call it treason against the U.S.A.

  3. 1Zoe55 March 2, 2016

    This McConnell and his cronies are traitors in my book. They still will do and try anything to obstruct a duly elected president. Part of the anger in America is toward this dysfunctional Congress that places loyalty to their state rather than to our country. This is why it is so important that we elect a democratic president and take back a majority in the Senate. We have to stop these Republican/TeaParty folks in their tracks before they destroy America. If Clinton or Sanders win the presidency, this obstructionist crap will continue unless and until we vote Republicans out on every level possible.

    1. dpaano March 2, 2016

      As they have been doing since Day 1 of President Obama’s administration. I find it interesting that so many people say they are “angry” at our current government and the Congress has an extremely low confidence rating, yet people want to vote in the SAME type of people to run our country…..apparently they aren’t aware that its this conservative Senate and House that have caused all the problems the past 7+ years of President Obama’s administration….it has NOTHING to do with the president’s job! But, you can’t change stupid!

  4. Bob Eddy March 2, 2016

    Once again the President makes the mistake of trying to work with Republicans who have no intention of doing anything but obstruct him. No problem. Let’s just make sure President Clinton or President Sanders has a Democratic majority in the Senate when they make their nomination.

    1. dpaano March 2, 2016

      I have been reading in the newspapers that Trump’s race to the top has caused a lot of problems with outgoing senators in their home states….people are deciding to vote them out rather than keep them in. And, with so many seats up for election in the Senate this year for Republicans….this can’t be a good thing!!! Even top Republicans are saying that if Trump is the final nominee, they won’t be voting. That’s pretty interesting and eye-opening to say the least!

      1. Bob Eddy March 2, 2016

        Of course the thing we really have to be concerned about is complacency. Both Reagan and Bush were considered rather lightly, yet they both not only won, but were somehow elected to a second term. As bad as he is, we need to take the eventual Republican nominee very seriously lest history repeat itself.

  5. Marv Nochowitz March 2, 2016

    Until the president actually nominates someone, there is nothing to complain about. Saying what thy are going to do doesn’t mean they will actually do It. Mr. President, nominate someone and see where the chips fall. To do nothing, plays to their hands. And do not nominate a republican. Better to nominate no one then nominate a republican

  6. dpaano March 2, 2016

    First of all, President Obama is not insisting on putting forth a Supreme Court nominee…..”because he says so.” He’s doing it because the Constitution “says so.” Secondly, if McConnell and Grassley can’t do their jobs, they need to get out of politics. Thirdly, the voters already had a say when they re-elected President Obama in 2012. Lastly, they’re going to be quite upset when the new president, who will definitely be a Democrat, has to choose not only someone to replace Scalia, but probably also someone to replace Ginsberg. They might be wise to get the new judge in place now rather than wait and lose two judges. In addition, why does the article say we have 4 “conservative” judges and 4 “liberal” judges? I thought the SCOTUS was supposed to be non-partisan (how silly of me)!!! This whole thing by McConnell and Grassley is totally ridiculous….there is NO precedence for them to hold up nominations for this position until a new president is elected….the Constitution is VERY clear on the sitting president’s job when it comes to nominating a Supreme Court justice….it doesn’t matter if he’s in his last year of office! The Republicans have done it in the past….why are they being such hypocrites (silly me for asking such a stupid question!).

  7. Eileen Whelan March 2, 2016

    I really don’t understand how any sane Republican can vote for any of these guys running the Republican Party. All they have done is divided this country, They could care less about the country, all they care about is distroying Obama, case in point hey have sat on there hands since Obama was elected.
    Shame on them, and shame on us as Americans for letting them get away with it.

  8. johninPCFL March 2, 2016

    But not, apparently, when Reagan did EXACTLY the same thing. The people DID weigh in, electing Obama twice by much larger margins than GWB EVER got.

  9. Otto Greif March 2, 2016

    What is the name of the Obama nominee who is being rebuffed?

    1. Insinnergy March 2, 2016

      Oh they don’t need one.
      The essence of the conversation was that whoever he picks, they will block.
      He’s President Blackenstein the Hitler Socialist, remember?
      Anything he touches, even if it was a Republican idea, is automatically blocked.
      By design.

  10. indiokie March 2, 2016

    Obstructionism at its finest.

  11. ralphkr March 3, 2016

    I still say Obama’s best tactic would be to appoint an extremely liberal justice to fill the vacant SCOTUS seat. An appointment to temporarily fill a position is valid until a permanent replacement arrives or until the end of the current term of office, which in the case of SCOTUS is a lifetime tenure. This puts the Republicans in a real bind because it definitely skews the SCOTUS into a branch of the Communist/Socialist/Nazi venue (their term for anything less conservative than Attila the Hun) until a replacement is passed. Then Obama can nominate a more centrist candidate leaving the Republicans the choice of either accepting that candidate or keeping a leftist SCOTUS with the further fear that perhaps a Republican might not end up in the White House or they might lose the Senate in the coming election and the temporary justice will stay on SCOTUS with either a Republican President & Democratic Senate or a Democratic President with a Republican Senate..


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