Conservative lawmakers are unlikely to allow President Obama to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday.
During the Republican debate Saturday evening, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said, “We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court justices in an election year.”
That’s not quite true: Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed in 1988, an election year. But the situation rarely comes up. A seat has opened on the Supreme Court during an election year only once every few decades.
There does not appear to be an established procedure for handling vacancies that arise just months before an election. As a result, partisans will be free to offer interpretations of the court’s history to buttress their positions on Obama’s eventual nominee.