Republicans keep calling their refusal to even consider President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court in an election year a “tradition.” But it is really just the opposite.
The current situation is unprecedented, and not just by virtue of the level of the obstruction Senate Republicans are proposing. It is a happenstance of history but in the modern era, a Supreme Court seat has almost never come open in an election year while the Senate is controlled by the opposite party of the president.
(The one time it did happen, in 1956, President Eisenhower recess-nominated a Democrat, William Brennan.)
While the Senate has the raw power to simply refuse to consider a Supreme Court nominee, the chance to do so in the final year of an opposing president's term has simply not come up.
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