Oklahoma's two Republican U.S. senators both say they oppose the Senate taking up consideration of President Barack Obama's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Obama on Wednesday nominated 63-year-old Washington, D.C., appeals court Chief Judge Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month.
Senator Jim Inhofe said in a statement that he will "evaluate" Garland's nomination, but opposes consideration of the nominee because he wants voters to have a say in who the next justice is by electing a new president.
“While I will evaluate the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, the next president should be the one to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. President Obama has worked to ram through his liberal agenda by way of executive actions, of which many are now tied up in the courts. This has created a situation where we need to be cautious as to who will fill the vacancy left behind by Justice Scalia. It makes the current presidential election all that more important as not only are the next four years in play, but an entire generation of Americans will be impacted by the balance of the court and its rulings. Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid have all made statements that the Senate does not have to confirm presidential nominations in an election year. I will oppose this nomination as I firmly believe we must let the people decide the Supreme Court’s future.”
Inhofe voted in 1997 to confirm Garland to the D.C. appeals court.
Senator James Lankford also issued a statement acknowledging Obama's duty to nominate a justice, but saying voters should have a say in Scalia's replacement by making their wishes known in the presidential election.
“The death of Justice Antonin Scalia is an enormous loss for the Supreme Court, but more importantly for our nation. A lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is extremely important and will shape monumental decisions that will impact America for decades. Justice Scalia’s constitutional approach to legal interpretation should be the standard for people who serve on the Highest Court in the land.
“Article 2, section 2 of the Constitution gives the President and the Senate an equal 50-50 responsibility in the process of filling a Supreme Court vacancy. The President has today fulfilled his constitutional requirement, now the Senate has an opportunity to provide 'advice and consent.’ While the Constitution says the President shall nominate judges to the Supreme Court, it does not say the Senate shall approve a nominee. Based on previous historical precedent, I support Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s intent to give the American people a say in Justice Scalia’s replacement this year at the ballot box.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.