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Elizabeth Warren: Republicans risk threatening "our democracy itself" over Supreme Court seat

Sen. Elizabeth Warren issued a statement on Sunday about the brewing fight over Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's replacement.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren issued a statement on Sunday about the brewing fight over Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's replacement.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Sunday that Republicans who don't want President Barack Obama to nominate a successor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia risk threatening "our democracy itself."

In a short, sharply worded statement, Warren said she couldn't find the section of the Constitution that tells presidents not to nominate justices "when there's a year left in the term of a Democratic president." Scalia died suddenly on Saturday, opening a vacancy on the court.

"Senate Republicans took an oath just like Senate Democrats did," said Warren, a former Harvard Law professor, in a statement on her Facebook page. "Abandoning the duties they swore to uphold would threaten both the Constitution and our democracy itself."

Warren's remarks address the immediate partisan split that emerged within hours after Scalia's death — one that threatens a constitutional crisis between divided branches of government. They also reflect the growing intensity of what is expected to be a brutal fight over Scalia's replacement.

Republicans have argued that Obama should wait until after the presidential election to replace Scalia, in part because choosing his replacement could potentially tilt the Court to the left for a generation. Democrats, including Obama and Warren, say the president has a constitutional obligation to fill the empty seat on the high bench.

Here's Warren's statement in full:

The sudden death of Justice Scalia creates an immediate vacancy on the most important court in the United States.

Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did — when President Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes.

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can't find a clause that says "...except when there's a year left in the term of a Democratic President."

Senate Republicans took an oath just like Senate Democrats did. Abandoning the duties they swore to uphold would threaten both the Constitution and our democracy itself. It would also prove that all the Republican talk about loving the Constitution is just that — empty talk.

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