GOP Sen. Toomey On Leaving Scalia Seat Vacant: ‘It’s Not That Big A Deal’

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February 18, 2016 4:47 p.m.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (PA) defended his support of the position that Senate should wait for a new president to confirm a Supreme Court nominee by arguing that “it’s not that big a deal” to have a vacant seat on the court until 2017. Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are suggesting they will not consider President Obama’s nominee to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly over the weekend, regardless of who it is.

Toomey told the AP that holding a confirmation hearing “might mislead the American people into thinking that this is just about the qualifications of the candidate, because it’s bigger than that.”

“I think the question before us now is … should the outgoing president fundamentally change the balance of the court for the next one or two generations?” Toomey said. “I don’t think that’s reasonable. I think that it’s more reasonable for the American people to have a more direct say in that process, which they will do through the election of the president knowing now with certainty that the next president is going to make this really important pick.”

Toomey is up for re-election in Pennsylvania, a purple state. Already, a conservative judicial advocacy group has launched an ad campaign pushing him to hold his tough stance on blocking a Supreme Court nominee. A progressive group, meanwhile, is planning robocalls to pressure him to consider a nomination.

Correction: The image on this story has been updated to show Pat Toomey.

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