Clinton did not react to the death of the longest-serving member of the court until late Saturday, after multiple Republicans had called for blocking any nominee until a new president took office. She expanded on those remarks throughout Monday, telling MSNBC that "the Constitution doesn’t say wait a year and hope for a president of a different party, and trying to flout the Constitution is a really funny way for the Republicans to be honoring Justice Scalia’s memory and legacy."
In Reno, Clinton offered Democrats a kind of elevator pitch for convincing people that Scalia could be replaced quickly -- presumably, by a jurist with less conservative views.
"I want you to be on the front lines of making this case to your friends and neighbors," she said. "The Republicans say, well, we don’t have enough time. You’ve heard that? Well, in fact, the longest argument over a nomination, for Clarence Thomas, lasted 100 days. President Obama has 340 days. So he has plenty of time. And the other argument they make is, oh my gosh, it’s an election year! Now, the last time I looked, the Constitution did not have a parentheses -- the president shall nominate (depending on what's happening in Washington). More than that, in 1988, the last year of President Reagan’s presidency – an election year – President Reagan nominated a nominee, and the Senate acted. So their arguments are flimsy."
It actually took just 99 days for Thomas to get a vote, which he narrowly won in a Democratic Senate, but the 1988 nomination Clinton referred to was a bit more complicated. In 1987, Reagan nominated Robert Bork to replace conservative Justice Lewis Powell. Democrats, newly in control of the upper House, defeated that nomination with the help of six Republicans. Reagan nominated one second choice, then a third, Anthony Kennedy, who won a smooth confirmation vote in February 1988.