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Brown calls on Senate to move on filling Scalia seat

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has called on the Senate to “uphold its Constitutional” duty and consider a nominee by President Barack Obama to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Brown was joined by Peter Shane, a Constitutional law professor at Ohio State University’s College of Law, who detailed the consequences of leaving a vacancy on the court.

“Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution is clear that the President ‘shall’ nominate Supreme Court justices with the advice and consent of the Senate – it doesn’t say ‘may’, and it certainly doesn’t say Senators get to shirk our duties because it’s an election year,” Brown said. “Over the past 100 years, the Senate has taken action on every Supreme Court candidate nominated in an election year. Refusing to even consider President Obama’s nominee is politics at its worst.”

Scalia died Feb. 13 at a resort in Texas, following 30 years on the high court. His death reduced the court’s 25-year conservative majority to an ideological split of 4-4 with liberal-leaning justices.

Republicans have sought to delay the filling of the seat until after the presidential election.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell told a group of House conservatives that there isn’t “a snowball’s chance in hell” that he will back down from his pledge to block any of Obama’s nominees for the position.

Republican members of the Senate Judiciary committee have stated they will not hold hearings on any pick the president makes, and McConnell has said he will not have the customary meeting between a nominee and Senate leaders.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said earlier this month that the Senate should wait until after the election on any court choice.

A survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling from Feb. 19-21, found that 58 percent of Ohio voters wanted the Senate to fill the seat this year, with 35 percent opposed.