The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would not take the idea of President Obama using a recess appointment to fill the late Justice Scalia’s seat off the table during an interview on CNN’s State Of The Union.
Transcript via CNN State Of The Union:
BASH: Do you think that — do you think that if Republicans continue down this road, that they say they’re not going to bring up whomever the nominee is for a vote, would you recommend to the president a recess appointment?
LEAHY: I don’t even think we’re there. I think the president — and I have talked to the White House last night — I think the president has to nominate somebody, nominate a qualified person, a highly qualified person.
BASH: But would you rule — would you rule it out if things don’t change the way they are now?
LEAHY: Well, I don’t even think — I don’t even think we’re there.
I think what we ought to do is nominate somebody. If the Republican leadership refuses to even hold a hearing, I think that is going to guarantee they lose control of the Senate, because I don’t think the American people will stand for that.
They want us to do our job. They can see us doing recess after recess, time off all year long. Tell us to come back, cancel one of those recesses, come back and have the hearing and have a vote. That’s what the American people expect the Senate to do.
If McConnell goes through with his plan to not allow a hearing or a vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, it is possible that Obama could use a recess appointment to fill the seat. It is easy to see a political environment where McConnell’s obstruction has backfired on Republicans, and the public outcry is so intense that the President has the political momentum to make a recess appointment.
No one wants a recess appointment to happen, but Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate Republicans are playing a dangerous game. If Obama timed the recess appointment correctly, there would be little that Republicans could do about it.
Sen. Leahy’s comments should be read as a warning to Republicans. It is more likely that Obama and Senate Democrats are going to use the threat of a recess appointment to get a vote on the President’s nominee. The fact that no possibilities are being off the table suggests that Democrats are deeply committed to making Republicans fulfill their constitutional duties. One way or another, Democrats are determined to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.