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Politics & Government

Sen. Carper to GOP: vote on Supreme Court nominee

Delaware Public Media

Sen. Tom Carper (D) is blasting Senate Republicans for refusing to consider any nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the leading conservative voices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Carper says the Constitution clearly shows the president is obligated to tap someone and bring him or her before the Senate.

“It doesn’t say ‘can nominate [Supreme Court Justices],’ it doesn’t say ‘might [or] should,’ it says ‘shall.’ It’s the president’s job," he said. "It’s the job of the Congress to provide advice and consent.”

Carper spoke outside his Sussex County Office on the Georgetown Circle Monday, saying, "...we need to do our job."

The state's senior senator – and former two-term governor – touted his judicial nominating career in the 1990s. Carper said cooperation between the legislative and executive branches in Delaware was much more congenial. "They didn't leave a vacancy for 12 months. They didn't leave a vacancy for 12 weeks."

Last week, GOP lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee vowed not to consider anyone President Obama nominates.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), they said they’ll block any nominee " ensure the American people are not deprived of the opportunity to engage in a full and robust debate over the type of jurist they wish to decide some of the most critical issues of our time."

Politico reported Sunday that the committee will still process lower level federal judges – some also with lifetime appointments – prompting cries of hypocrisy from Democrats.

Delaware Law Professor Alan Garfield agreed with Carper, saying Senate Republicans' unwavering stance “denigrates” the president’s constitutional obligation to nominate a Supreme Court justice.

“Politicians can use their power to create gridlock in the system, but certainly if you ask what’s best for the country, what’s best for the country is for everyone to exercise their power in good faith,” Garfield said.'

Scalia died in his sleep earlier this month at a luxury hunting ranch in southwest Texas at age 79.

Should GOP lawmakers stand firm, the Supreme Court will consider their case load with only eight members at least until the next president is sworn in Jan. 20, 2017.