Obama: Give Supreme Court pick 'respect he has earned'
WASHINGTON DC, USA – US President Barack Obama called on Republicans on Saturday, March 19, to hold a vote on his pick for the next Supreme Court justice and give his candidate "the respect he has earned."
Obama chose 63-year-old centrist judge Merrick Garland on Wednesday for a pivotal vacancy on the high court to replace conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly on the eve of Valentine's Day.
Republicans fear Garland will tip the court's even balance toward liberals and have vowed to refuse him even a Senate confirmation hearing, with hopes that a Republican will take the White House in November's election and appoint the next justice.
Democrats are portraying the Republicans as obstructionist under the rallying cry "Do Your Job."
The deadlock sets the stage for an election-year showdown that will see both sides attempt to increase the electoral costs for their opponents.
"I ask Republicans in the Senate to give Judge Garland the respect he has earned," Obama said Saturday morning in his weekly radio address. (READ: Obama says high court pick respected on 'both sides of the aisle')
"Give him a hearing," he added. "Give him an up-or-down vote. To deny it would be an abdication of the Senate's Constitutional duty. It would indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair."
The White House is betting that public pressure may force some Republican Senators – including ones who face re-election in November – to reconsider their position.
"I understand that we're in the middle of an especially noisy and volatile political season," Obama said.
"But at a time when our politics are so polarized, when norms and customs of our political rhetoric seem to be corroding – this is precisely the time we should treat the appointment of a Supreme Court justice with the seriousness it deserves." – Rappler.com