President Barack Obama said Tuesday he would nominate a candidate who is "indisputably" qualified to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, the AP reports. He called on the staunch Republican opposition in the Senate to rise above "venom and rancor" and give the nominee a vote. "I intend to do my job between now and Jan. 20 of 2017," Obama said. "I expect them to do their job as well." Obama cast the dispute as a question of how far Republicans want to push their opposition and whether the Senate can function in the hyper-politicized climate. Fights over judicial nominations are not new, he noted, but "the Supreme Court's different." "This will be a test, one more test of whether or not norms, rules, basic fair play can function at all in Washington these days," he said.
Since Justice Antonin Scalia's unexpected death at a remote Texas ranch on Saturday, White House lawyers and advisers have been scrambling to refine and vet a list of potential replacements while also devising a strategy to push a candidate through the Republican-led Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he doesn't think Obama should be putting a candidate forward. The Kentucky senator, as well as several Republican senators up for re-election this year, say Obama should leave the choice up to the next president. The November election, they argue, will give voters a chance to weigh in on the direction of the court. Obama dismissed that notion. He has said he will put forward a replacement in due time and that he believes the Senate will have "plenty of time" to give the nominee a fair hearing and a vote.