WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fiercely defended President Barack Obama's constitutional right to appoint a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was found dead Saturday morning.
“Barack Obama is president of the United States until Jan. 20, 2017, and that is a fact, my friends, whether the Republicans like it or not,” the Democratic presidential candidate told Colorado Democrats at a dinner Saturday night. "Elections have consequences."
"Some might say that a confirmation process would take too long for this president to complete during his remaining days in office," she said. "But the longest successful confirmation in the past four decades was Clarence Thomas, and that took roughly 100 days."
“There are 340 days until the next president takes office, so that is plenty of time,” Clinton said.
Clinton also pushed back against the idea that a Supreme Court judicial confirmation during an election year would be too politically difficult, noting that Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed in 1988 by a vote of 97-0.
The former secretary of state also attacked congressional Republicans, who have promised to block any nominee the president puts forth. “It is outrageous that Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail have already pledged to block any replacement that President Obama nominates,” Clinton said.
"To hear comments like those of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this evening is totally disappointing," she said, “and it's totally out of step with our history and our constitutional principles.”
Earlier in the day, Clinton praised Scalia's public service, but she had harsh words for Republicans.
"I did not hold Justice Scalia’s views, but he was a dedicated public servant who brought energy and passion to the bench," she said. "The Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail who are calling for Justice Scalia’s seat to remain vacant dishonor our Constitution.
A former senator from New York, Clinton said the Senate "has a constitutional responsibility here that it cannot abdicate for partisan political reasons."
Obama on Saturday night announced that he plans to nominate a replacement for Scalia, calling his responsibilities as president "bigger than any one party."
"They are about our democracy, and they are about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life in making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned," Obama said.
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