Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers blocked President Barack Obama’s move to fill the Supreme Court seat held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The seat, which is a lifetime appointment, will play a major role in deciding some of the most divisive issues in America today.
The nine-justice court is currently comprised of four liberals and four conservatives. The new justice may very well tilt the balance of the highest court in the nation, and Scalia’s vacancy is quickly becoming an issue for the 2016 presidential election.
Ted Cruz, Republican presidential candidate, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the 2016 election should be a “referendum on the Supreme Court.”
The court is facing tough issues this year, with its first major abortion case in almost a decade. Affirmative action, voting rights and immigration issues will also be decided.
Scalia died on Saturday in West Texas at the age of 79. According to Judge Cinderela Gueara, the top official in the county where Scalia died, the cause of death will not be determined for several days.
President Obama will make a nomination to fill the empty seat, but has decided to wait until the Senate is back in session on February 22. Eric Schultz, White House spokesman, said that they expect the Senate to give the nominee consideration, as is consistent with their “responsibilities laid out in the United States Constitution.”
Shortly after Scalia’s death, Republicans made a vow not to take action on the vacancy until after the presidential election.