If Clin­ton wins, more in GOP say no to 9 on Supreme Court

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OBITUARIES - By Mary Clare Jalonick

WASH­ING­TON >> The Supreme Court has ex­isted with its full com­ple­ment of nine jus­tices for close to 150 years, no mat­ter who oc­cu­pied the White House. Now some Repub­li­can law­mak­ers sug­gest they would be fine with just eight for four years more rather than have Hil­lary Clin­ton fill the va­cancy. The court has op­er­ated with eight jus­tices for the past eight months as Repub­li­cans con­trol­ling the Se­nate have blocked con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s nom­i­nee Mer­rick Gar­land. Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., and his GOP col­leagues have in­sisted that Amer­i­can vot­ers should have a say, choos­ing the next pres­i­dent in Tues­day’s elec­tion. The 45th pres­i­dent — ei­ther Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton or Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump — would fill the cur­rent va­cancy cre­ated when Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia died in Fe­bru­ary.

But sev­eral Repub­li­cans have said if the vot­ers elect Clin­ton, they’ll block her nom­i­nees, ef­fec­tively aban­don­ing their ad­vice and con­sent role for her en­tire term.

“If Hil­lary Clin­ton be­comes pres­i­dent, I am go­ing to do ev­ery­thing I can do to make sure four years from now, we still got an open­ing on the Supreme Court,” North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr said in an au­dio record­ing of his meet­ing with GOP vol­un­teers on Satur­day. CNN ob­tained a copy of the au­dio.

GOP Sens. John McCain of Ari­zona and Ted Cruz of Texas have also sug­gested block­ing any Clin­ton nom­i­nees. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said in a de­bate Mon­day night that he “can’t imag­ine” vot­ing for any Clin­ton nom­i­nee though he stopped short of vow­ing to block a pick from a Demo­cratic pres­i­dent.

McCon­nell says sim­ply the next pres­i­dent will make the nom­i­na­tion to fill the cur­rent va­cancy.

The size of the court is set by fed­eral law and has changed over the years, but has been nine jus­tices since 1869. When va­can­cies arise, they usu­ally are filled within months, if not weeks. But there have twice been stretches of more than two years where the court was one jus­tice short. An­other six va­can­cies lasted more than a year. The most re­cent was in 1969 and 1970, when Jus­tice Abe For­tas re­signed and the Se­nate re­jected two of Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon’s nom­i­nees be­fore con­firm­ing Jus­tice Harry Black­mun.

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