Senate Should Give Obama’s Supreme Court Justice Nominee a Vote, Patrick Leahy Says

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The top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says it would be a “dereliction of duty” if the chamber doesn’t vote on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday that Obama should nominate a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday.

“The fact is, when you elect a president, you have to assume a Supreme Court vacancy, he is going to make the nomination,” Leahy said. “And it would be a sheer dereliction of duty for the Senate not to have a hearing, not to have a vote.”

He said if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, refuses to allow a vote on that nominee, the GOP will pay a price in November’s elections.

“If the Republican leadership refuses to even hold a hearing, I think that is going to guarantee they’re going to lose control of the Senate,” Leahy said.

Republicans and Democrats have quickly entered a bitter fight over when to fill Scalia’s position on the nation’s high court.

Republicans argue that it’s been more than 80 years since a Supreme Court nominee was confirmed in an election year.

Leahy pushed back by pointing to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was confirmed on February 3, 1988 — but only after Ronald Reagan’s initial nominee, Robert Bork, was rejected by the Senate.