President Barack Obama spoke on the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Saturday, saying he would nominate a successor "in due time."
Obama called on the U.S. Senate to give his eventual nominee "a fair hearing and a timely vote."
"These are responsibilities I take seriously, as should everyone," Obama said. "They’re bigger than any one party. They’re about our democracy."
In the few hours after Scalia's death was first reported, conservatives vowed to delay the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice until Obama has left office.
"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President."
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), two Republican presidential hopefuls, both said they thought Scalia's replacement should be left to the "next president."
HuffPost's Amanda Terkel reports on what Scalia's death could mean for the 2016 presidential election:
If a liberal replaces Scalia, it will likely be the biggest ideological swing in the court since Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall -- and the first time since the 1960s, when Richard Nixon had two early appointments, that the court had a clear liberal majority.
Even before Scalia's death, it was clear that Obama's successor would have a hand in shaping the makeup of the bench. Many of its most consequential cases are decided on a 5-4 basis, divided between the liberal and conservative wings -- with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who turns 80 in July, the deciding vote. Political observers have long speculated on potential retirements and the likelihood that the Supreme Court's ideological bent would shift.
And on the campaign trail, the presidential candidates often speak what type of nominee they would choose if there is a vacancy, and what a high-stakes decision that would be.
In his remarks Saturday, Obama remembered Scalia as a "larger-than-life presence on the bench."
"He influenced a generation of judges, lawyers and students, and profoundly shaped the legal landscape," Obama said. "He will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court."
Obama spoke about Scalia's passion for hunting and opera music, the latter of which he shared with fellow Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Scalia was found dead at a ranch in West Texas on Saturday. He was 79.
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