Debates over the future of the nation's highest court will heat up when President Barack Obama chooses a nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said on the Senate floor last week that he expected the president would send lawmakers a nominee within “a week or so.”
The battle over that nominee will surely be contentious. Within hours of Scalia's death last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged not to confirm a new justice before the next president takes office.
The White House is reportedly vetting federal appellate Judge Jane Kelly. The names of federal appellate court judges Sri Srinivasan and Merrick Garland have also been mentioned.
The U.S. Constitution is silent on the Senate approval process, said Josh Blackman, an associate professor at South Texas College of Law. Typically, a president's nomination goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee holds a hearing and votes. The Senate majority leader decides whether to hold a full Senate vote, Blackman said. He said the process usually takes several months.
In this case, however, Blackman thinks there's very little chance the Senate will confirm an Obama nominee. Even if the Senate did confirm the president's nominee, that person wouldn't likely take the seat until after this term's cases have been argued.