Dems Fire Up Outrage Machine Outside Of Supreme Court

Republicans "took a solemn oath before God" to uphold the Constitution, and they are reneging by not considering a court nominee, say Democrats.

WASHINGTON -- Standing in front of the Supreme Court, Democrats tried to raise the pressure on Republicans Thursday to at least consider a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Accusing Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of unprecedented obstruction, a phalanx of Democrats repeatedly told the GOP, "Do your job," printing that slogan on their press conference lectern to make sure everyone got the point.

McConnell declared almost immediately upon learning of Scalia's death nearly two weeks ago that the Senate should not consider replacing the conservative jurist until there is a new president.

That would leave the ninth seat of the high court vacant for at least a year, something the Democrats noted has not happened since the Civil War.

And they argued repeatedly that never has the United States Senate refused to hold hearings and a vote on a Supreme Court nominee. They also accused the GOP of abandoning a sacred responsibility.

"Even though under the Constitution, they took a solemn oath, a solemn oath before God, to uphold the Constitution, they said in this case we won't uphold the Constitution," roared Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), holding up his pocket copy of the nation's founding document for emphasis.

McConnell has argued that only once in history has the Senate, when controlled by the president's opposing party, confirmed a justice who was nominated in an election year.

Republicans insist that such a consequential nomination is too important to be made by President Barack Obama in his final year, and that voters should get a say by considering any such appointment in choosing the next commander in chief.

Democrats suggested Republicans' position was purely motivated by a political need to appease the hard right of their party, and perhaps by a hatred of Obama.

"Why are Senate Republicans so adamant about not fulfilling their constitutional responsibility? Why are they so adamant about block this president from making a Supreme Court appointment?" said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Defending their move, Republicans say Democrats would do exactly the same thing if their positions were reversed. They've pointed to past comments from Democrats when Republicans held the White House, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), that suggested blocking a nominee was acceptable at that point in their terms.

Democrats have noted, however, that they never did block nominees, confirming many more than the 16 judges the current GOP-led Senate has managed to advance.