President Obama promises to name ‘indisputably qualified’ nominee for court

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — President Barack Obama says there is “more than enough time” for the Senate to consider a nomination to the Supreme Court this year, and he intends to move ahead with his choice.

The president says he intends to nominate someone who is indisputably qualified for the seat that was held by the late Antonin Scalia. Scalia died over the weekend while on a hunting trip in Texas.

“I’m going to present somebody who is indisputably qualified for the seat, and any fair-minded person–even someone who disagreed with my politics–would say would serve with honor and integrity on the court,” he said. He added he intends to “nominate, in due time, a very well-qualified candidate. If we are following basic precedent, then that nominee will be presented before committees, a vote will be taken, and ultimately that person will be confirmed.”

Obama says those who say he should leave the nomination to the next president are reading something into the Constitution that just isn’t there.

“The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now. When there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the president of the United States is to nominate someone. The Senate is to consider that nomination. And either they disapprove of that nominee, or that nominee is elevated to the Supreme Court.”

He went on to say that “historically, this has not been viewed as a question. There is no unwritten law that says that it can only be done on off years. That’s not in the constitutional text. I’m amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a series of provisions that are not there.”

He even brought up the example of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was nominated and confirmed during President Ronald Reagan’s last year in office despite Democrats disagreeing with his ideologies.

The president acknowledged the position the other side is in to block his nomination, but said that politicians need to rise above that.

“I understand the stakes. I understand the pressure that Republican senators are undoubtedly under. The fact of the matter is, the issue here is that the court is now divided on many issues. This would be a deciding vote, and there are a lot of Republican senators who are going to be under a lot of pressure…to not let any nominee go through, no matter who I nominate.”

He pointed out that he has 14 pending nominations for differet judicial positions that have been approved by a bipartisan Judiciary Committee, but that he’s been unable to get the nomination to a vote on the Senate floor.

Obama made the remarks Tuesday during a California news conference at the conclusion of his summit meetings with leaders of Southeast Asian nations in Rancho Mirage, California.

He started off answering the reporter’s question about what comes next in the nomination process by reaching out to Scalia’s family.

“I want to reiterate my heartfelt condolences to the Scalia family… it’s important before we rush into all the politics of this to take stock of someone who made a huge contribution to the United States.”