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Justice Antonin Scalia's death sparks battle for Supreme Court control

February 14, 2016 5:17 pm

The death of one of the most conservative members of the US Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia, has sparked arguments over the process to find his successor.

President Barack Obama said he would nominate a replacement.

But the Republican candidates for the presidential nomination have called for a delay until after the election.

Before Justice Scalia’s death, the US high court had a conservative 5-4 majority.

It succeeded in stalling major efforts by the Obama administration on climate change and immigration.

With places on the Supreme Court now balanced 4-4 between liberals and conservatives, the fight for influence in one of the highest forums for decision-making in the US promises to be as fraught as the current presidential race.
Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Justice Scalia’s death comes just 11 months before the end of Mr Obama’s term as president, so Republicans in the Senate are going to be under intense pressure from some conservatives to do everything they can to delay confirmation of a replacement until a new chief executive is sworn in on 20 January 2017.

That could involve slowing down confirmation hearings in the Senate committee and filibustering any nominee before they receive a vote in the full Senate.

Then, conservatives hope, a Republican president would name a replacement more likely to maintain the one-vote conservative majority on the Court.

The longest it has ever taken the Senate to confirm a Supreme Court nominee is 125 days.