Alberto Gonzales, who served as attorney general under President George W. Bush, broke from Republican Party line by suggesting repeatedly over the weekend that a nomination to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia shouldn’t wait for the next president.
“If the shoe were on the other foot, and there was a Republican in the White House and Democratically controlled Congress, I would expect the Republican president to make a nomination when ready of a qualified individual,” Gonzales said on the BBC.
“The Senate is going to be very careful and very deliberate before doing anything here,” he added.
He made a similar statement on CNN Monday.
“I know there’s a big debate going on right now about whether or not Obama should nominate someone,” Gonzales said. “From my perspective having worked at the White House and then at the Department of Justice, there’s just no question in my mind that as president of the United States, you have an obligation to fill a vacancy.”
“I suspect that President Obama is going to do his job, and after he does his job in nominating hopefully a qualified individual, the Senate will do its job, eventually, on its own calendar,” Gonzales said.
Almost immediately after Scalia’s death was reported, GOP lawmakers began pushing the line that his successor should be picked by the president who wins November’s election.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who’s running for the White House, called on the Senate to “ensure” the nomination waited for a new president, a move Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stood behind in a statement released shortly thereafter Saturday evening that said “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”
Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, also released a statement Saturday that said “it only makes sense” to delay the confirmation until next year.
Gonzales, on CNN Monday, whoever, seemed to believe that it was Democrats who had encouraged the idea that Republicans planned to block President Obama’s nominee no matter whom he put forward.
“There’s already talk, criticism by Democrats that Republicans are threatening to block this nominee. Unfortunately in the confirmation process, there is always politics, it involves itself, and you’ve had Democrats in the past block Republican nominees and you may have the same thing in this particular situation,” Gonzales said.
“The bottom line, from my perspective, is that the president has to do his job in nominating a qualified individual and then the Senate does its jobs in assessing whether or not this person is qualified for a lifetime appointment on the court, based upon experience, based upon ideology and based upon integrity,” Gonzales said.