There has been a lot of guessing about who President Barack Obama will nominate to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. The latest name to come out is federal Appellate Court Judge Jane Kelly. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a fellow 1991 classmate of President Obama. Kelly sits on the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and is a former public defender. She is currently undergoing a full background check by the FBI. If appointed, she will be the only justice who served as a criminal law attorney in the high court. Judge Kelly is from Indiana and attended Duke University and won a Fulbright Scholarship that allowed her to study in New Zealand before she attended Harvard Law School with President Obama.
When appointed to the bench in 2013, she was confirmed by the senate in a vote of 96-0, making her a strong candidate for the Supreme Court. Despite this fact, Republican members of the senate have stated that they will not accept any nomination for the Supreme Court until after the upcoming presidential election. Even those Republicans who supported her nomination to the federal bench have stated that she is not guaranteed their support for the Supreme Court vacancy. The court only has eight justices currently hearing arguments and is currently facing serious cases that deal with immigration, abortion, affirmative action, labor unions and Obamacare.
President Obama can make a recess appointment of Kelly but only if the Senate is in a declared recess. To stop this from happening, Republican senate leaders have stated that they will employ what is known as a “pro-forma” state while the senate goes on vacation. This will entail one senator remaining behind and opening and closing sessions each day until the full senate returns from vacation.
The US Constitution clearly states that the President of the United States nominates a justice and that the Senate must confirm. There is no stipulation that the president must wait until after an election cycle. So far, Republicans have not suggested to the president any candidates of their own to fill Scalia’s vacant seat.