Sandra Day O'Connor Says Obama Should Get To Replace Justice Scalia

"Let's get on with it," the retired Reagan appointee said.

02/17/2016 11:22 pm ET | Updated Feb 18, 2016
KAREN BLEIER via Getty Images
Sandra Day O'Connor retired from the Supreme Court in 2006, but she continues to impart wisdom off the bench.

Sandra Day O'Connor, the retired Supreme Court justice appointed by President Ronald Reagan, said on Wednesday that President Barack Obama should get to name the replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

O'Connor, in an interview with a Fox affiliate in Phoenix, disagreed with Republican arguments that the next president, and not Obama, should get to fill the high court vacancy.

"I think we need somebody there to do the job now and let's get on with it," said O'Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court.

O'Connor, 85, agreed it's unusual for a Supreme Court vacancy to open in an election year, which "creates much talk around the thing that isn't necessary." 

But she said the president still has an important responsibility to fulfill.

"You just have to pick the best person you can under the circumstances, as the appointing authority must do," she said. "It's an important position and one that we care about as a nation and as a people. And I wish the president well as he makes choices and goes down that line. It's hard."

Reagan, fulfilling a campaign promise to nominate a woman to the high court, appointed O'Connor in 1981. For 25 years, she played a mostly centrist, pragmatist role on the bench -- often breaking from Republican ideology and siding with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on women's issues.

She stepped down in 2006 to care for her ailing husband and was replaced by Justice Samuel Alito. Many legal observers have noted that, had she not retired when she did, the court wouldn't have shifted rightward so dramatically in the last decade.

A Baltimore Sun op-ed piece published Tuesday argued that Obama should bring O'Connor out of retirement and put her back on the court.

Watch the interview with O'Connor below:

CONVERSATIONS