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Sen. Coons says Republicans pose "Constitutional threat" by refusing Supreme Court nominee hearing

Delaware Public Media

Sen. Chris Coons  (D-Delaware) says waiting to fill the Supreme Court’s current vacancy would be a mistake.


Coons made his comments at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia amid reports President Obama could nominate a new justice this week.


The Supreme Court has an unexpected vacancy following the death last month of Justice Antonin Scalia. Many Republicans have said President Obama should not make a nomination, and leave that choice to  the next president following the 2016 election.


Coons says some students from Wilmington’s Cab Callaway High School joined him at the Constitution Center and questioned that approach.


“One student said she just couldn’t understand why senators wouldn’t do their job,” Coons said. “If the president nominates someone to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, she was struggling to understand how they could justify not holding a hearing, not even meeting with them, and leaving the Supreme Court with a vacant seat for most of the year.”


Coons, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is urging his Republican colleagues to allow hearings and vote on a nominee. He doesn’t want extended vacancies on the nation’s highest court to become common occurrences.


“If a new normal - a new baseline - is being set here by refusing to even meet with nominees (and potential nominees) from President Obama in his last year, what’s to prevent us from repeating this pattern under the next president?” Coons said.  


Coons stressed that the Senate has a “Constitutional obligation” to provide advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees, an obligation it should take seriously. 


"The Supreme Court is the most important court in our country for interpreting, applying and defending our Constitution," Coons said. "The reason I held a press conference today was to highlight the real threat to our basic Constitutional system."


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