Obama speaks on Supreme Court, Scalia, and other international i - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Obama speaks on Supreme Court, Scalia, and other international issues

(Source: Raycom Media) (Source: Raycom Media)
(Source: Raycom Media) (Source: Raycom Media)
(KFVS/AP) -

President Obama held a news conference on Tuesday, Feb. 16 in Rancho Mirage, California, speaking on several issues, but mainly to address the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

He was questioned about his choice or possible choices on who he plans to nominate as Scalia's replacement.

With a little more than 10 months of his presidency left and in the midst of an election year, as well as the possibility of losing many Republicans in the Senate, lawmakers along with GOP presidential hopefuls are blasting Obama's ability to nominate a justice with less than a year left in his presidency, which would allow him to change the make-up of the nation's highest court.

"I intend to do my job between now and January 20 of 2017," Obama said. "I expect them (lawmakers) to do their job as well."

For Obama, the clock is ticking, but the president stressed the Constitution is clear on this particular issue: he said there is no part or clause in the Constitution that prohibits him from making a nomination in his last year in office.

“Were going to find someone with an outstanding legal mind,” Obama saidHe seemed confident in doing so, but still acknowledged that pushing a nominee through will be an uphill battle.

“This will be a test, one more test, whether or not norms, rules, basic fair play can function in Washington these days,” the president said.

He stressed that this is “one court where we would expect officials to rise above day-to-day politics.

The Republicans' recommended solution is "irresponsible and it's unprecedented," Sen. Pat Leahy, the ranking Democrat Senate Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday. "The American public expects us to do the job we're elected to do. The president is going to do what he is elected to do and let's vote up or down."

The dispute reflects years of escalating partisan hostilities over judicial nominations, as well as the unusual timing.

The sooner Obama picks chooses a nomination, though, the longer he has to try to force the Republican-led Senate to hold a vote.

David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Paul Simon Public Institute at SIUC, does not believe Obama will be able to push a nomination through before the end of his presidency.

"He will send a name up, and they'll (Senate Republicans) will turn it back," Yepsen said.

This is going to energize the race for president because it reminds people what's at stake here, on both sides, conservatives and liberals."

Yepsen said Republicans could lose a lot of seats in the Senate if the Democrats pull in a big victory, which could help Obama, or if the next president is a Democrat, push a nominee through more easily.

Although the court can operate with only eight justices, it would be unable to issue nationwide rulings on any issue in which the justices are split 4 to 4.

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Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this story.

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