White House says no SCOTUS appointment this recess

A White House spokesman confirmed that President Obama will not name a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia during the current recess.

A Reuters report quotes White House spokesman Eric Schultz who told the wire service, "Given that the Senate is currently in recess, we don’t expect the president to rush this through this week, but instead will do so in due time once the Senate returns from their recess." 

"At that point, we expect the Senate to consider that nominee, consistent with their responsibilities laid out in the United States Constitution," he said.

Obama is traveling in California and returns to Washington on Tuesday. The Senate returns from recess on Feb. 22.

Making a recess appointment would have been extremely controversial.

The White House declined to give a more specific timeline for Obama to announce his nominee.

For his previous two Supreme Court picks, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the president took about 30 days each to announce his selection after their predecessors, Justice John Paul Stevens and Justice David Souter, respectively, said they planned to step down.

In remarks honoring Scalia on Saturday, Obama made clear he would not succumb to pressure from Republicans to leave the selection of a new justice to his successor.

The president, who leaves office in January 2017, said he would make his choice in due time.

"These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy," he said. "They’re about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life, and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned."

The president is no doubt aware of what Democrats believe to be a political advantage to having Obama nominate a replacement for Scalia and then paint the Republicans as constitutional obstructionists for not voting on the nominee.  So at this point it is not necessary for the president to act while the Senate is in recess.

Besides, it will take a couple of weeks to vet any nominee, so as a practical matter, making a recess appointment now wouldn't make much sense.

But all bets are off when the Senate goes into recess this summer, and especially after Labor Day, when the campaigns will heat up.  Thanks to a decision by the Supreme Court in 2014, where Obama was denied some NLRB recess appointments, Republicans in the Senate may be able to structure an adjournment to prevent the president from making a recess appointment.  But there are no guarantees, and given the track record of this president, it's more than possible that he will flout the Senate and name a justice anyway.

A White House spokesman confirmed that President Obama will not name a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia during the current recess.

A Reuters report quotes White House spokesman Eric Schultz who told the wire service, "Given that the Senate is currently in recess, we don’t expect the president to rush this through this week, but instead will do so in due time once the Senate returns from their recess." 

"At that point, we expect the Senate to consider that nominee, consistent with their responsibilities laid out in the United States Constitution," he said.

Obama is traveling in California and returns to Washington on Tuesday. The Senate returns from recess on Feb. 22.

Making a recess appointment would have been extremely controversial.

The White House declined to give a more specific timeline for Obama to announce his nominee.

For his previous two Supreme Court picks, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the president took about 30 days each to announce his selection after their predecessors, Justice John Paul Stevens and Justice David Souter, respectively, said they planned to step down.

In remarks honoring Scalia on Saturday, Obama made clear he would not succumb to pressure from Republicans to leave the selection of a new justice to his successor.

The president, who leaves office in January 2017, said he would make his choice in due time.

"These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy," he said. "They’re about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life, and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned."

The president is no doubt aware of what Democrats believe to be a political advantage to having Obama nominate a replacement for Scalia and then paint the Republicans as constitutional obstructionists for not voting on the nominee.  So at this point it is not necessary for the president to act while the Senate is in recess.

Besides, it will take a couple of weeks to vet any nominee, so as a practical matter, making a recess appointment now wouldn't make much sense.

But all bets are off when the Senate goes into recess this summer, and especially after Labor Day, when the campaigns will heat up.  Thanks to a decision by the Supreme Court in 2014, where Obama was denied some NLRB recess appointments, Republicans in the Senate may be able to structure an adjournment to prevent the president from making a recess appointment.  But there are no guarantees, and given the track record of this president, it's more than possible that he will flout the Senate and name a justice anyway.