Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders slammed Republicans for their absurd denial of President Obama’s basic constitutional right to replace the deceased Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court.
DICKERSON: Senator Sanders, before we get back to the political questions, I want to ask you about the president’s replacement for Antonin Scalia. What do you think will happen? He’s going to nominate somebody, but Republicans have said they’re just going to let it sit.
SANDERS: Well, I’ll say, John, it is beyond my comprehension and it just speaks to the unbelievable level and unprecedented level of Republican obstructionism against Obama from day one. This is not something that is in debate. The Constitution of the United States of America provides that the president appoints, nominates a Supreme Court justice. And then the Senate holds hearings and deliberation and votes on whether or not to approve that nomination.
The idea that Republicans want to deny the president of the United States his basic constitutional right is beyond my comprehension. So I will do everything that I can to make sure that when the president makes his nomination, the Senate goes forward in as speedy a process as possible, holds the necessary hearings and hopefully appoints and selects the president — the Supreme Court justice that the president nominates.
DICKERSON: What levers, senator, do the Democrats really have, though? If the Republicans are in the majority they decide to slow walk this, what could Democrats do? How far could it go?
SANDERS: Well, I think we should do everything that we can. But I think the main leverage that we have is rallying the American people. Look, you can be a conservative, you can be a progressive, but you cannot allow — we cannot allow the Republican majority in the Senate to deny the president his basic constitutional right. There are very important cases that need to be heard that are not going to be determined if we do not have a ninth member of the Supreme Court. I think the issue is taking the situation to the American people. And I think fair minded Americans, no matter what their political point of view may be, will say, this is absurd. This is obstructionism. This is not what democracy and what the Congress is supposed to be about.
Also in the interview, Sanders repeated that his litmus test for Supreme Court nominees is their support for overturning Citizens United. The level of obstruction that President Obama has faced is unprecedented. There is no legal or constitutional reason that Republicans can’t hold a hearing and a vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.
There is not an “I don’t want to” clause in the Constitution. This is not a debatable issue. The President must nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia, and the Senate must confirm the permanent replacement. Senate Republicans don’t get to ignore and neglect the Constitution without being held accountable. As Sen. Sanders said, to deny President Obama his absurd and a violation of the democratic principles that our nation is supposed to stand for.