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Pa. politicians unsure of potential Scalia replacement

Written by Flint L. McColgan/York Daily Record | Feb 15, 2016 8:49 AM
antonin_scalia2.jpg

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, left, from Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, at the Memorial Hall of Chapman University in Orange, Calif. (AP Photo/Sang H. Park)

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey urges swift nomination, whereas Republican Congressman Scott Perry thinks the debate started too soon.

(Undated) -- With U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death Saturday, Washington D.C. is entering a partisan battle for filling his seat on the now-eight member court.

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President."

But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wrote in a tweet that "The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away. The Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible."

The controversy over nomination has to do with the fact that Democratic President Barack Obama - already with two court appointees in his tenure - is in his last year in office.

State Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, said it is the president's constitutional prerogative to nominate justices to the court. But, he added, it's also the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate's prerogative to confirm or not confirm the replacement.

As a Congressman, Perry will not have a vote in Supreme Court confirmations, but he still didn't like that the debate started so soon.

"I know the debate is already beginning to rage but the guy died only yesterday. The first thing is to keep his family in our prayers," he said. "Many of us love and revere this guy because we see him as a defender of the constitution whether we agree with him or not."

Likewise, York County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Joseph Adams said Sunday that Scalia "left an indelible mark on our legal history."

Pennsylvania's two senators - who will have a vote - both praised Scalia's 30 year tenure on the court and the additional decades he spent as a judge and legal scholar.

"Justice Antonin Scalia was a true patriot, serving on the U.S. Supreme Court for three decades," said Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in a Saturday statement. "He was a tireless defender of the U.S. Constitution and a principled conservative who brought both tremendous intellect and wit to our nation's highest court."

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey issued a similar sentiment in a tweet: "Today our nation mourns for Justice Scalia and his family. It's a day to acknowledge and express gratitude for his decades of public service."

But the senator encourages a swift nomination and hearing.

"Since the 1980s, every person nominated to the Supreme Court has been given a hearing and vote within 100 days of the nomination, including when Senate Democrats joined Republicans in unanimously confirming nominee Anthony Kennedy to the court during the final year of Ronald Reagan's second Presidential term," Casey said through his press secretary, Jacklin Rhoads. "Senator Casey believes this process should be no different."

Toomey could not be reached for a statement on nomination and confirmation by Sunday evening.

*This article is part of a content-sharing agreement between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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