Dems Would Be 'Justified' in Blocking Supreme Court Nominee of GOP President, White House Says

White House continues pressing the GOP to consider its nominee.

ByAlexander Mallin
April 14, 2016, 5:33 PM

— -- White House press secretary Josh Earnest raised eyebrows during today's press briefing by suggesting that Democrats would be “justified” to take revenge on the GOP blockade against Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland by blocking a possible GOP president’s nomination for the president's full term.

Earnest was recalling a suggestion President Obama made in an interview with Fox News Sunday in which he said if Republicans continued blocking Garland until he left office then “it is almost impossible to expect” that Democrats wouldn’t retaliate if given the opportunity.

"What's to stop Democrats who are in charge of the Senate when a Republican is in office, from saying, 'Well, we're just going to wait the four years to fill the vacancy.' There is no material difference in that argument. That would represent a breakdown of the process," Earnest said.

But Earnest went just a bit further, after a reporter asked, “Would they really do that?”

“They would be justified in doing it, based on what Republicans have done so far,” Earnest said, adding “Hopefully, they -- it won't come to that.”

If the GOP-controlled Senate doesn't confirm a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia and Senate Democrats subsequently block a potential Republican president's nominee until after 2020, it would by far mark the longest Supreme Court vacancy in U.S. history. The current record dates back to 1844 when a Whig-controlled Senate refused to confirm a nominee for 841 days, more than two years.

The longest vacancy in the past 30 years, however, is just 267 days. That landmark would be easily passed if Republicans block any nominee until after Obama leaves office.

When asked if his comments were meant as a threat, Earnest responded saying since he isn’t a sitting U.S. senator, he wouldn't have the "standing” for it to be a threat.

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