President Obama paid tribute to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a live statement Saturday night, ending with a comment aimed at Republicans who vow to stop Obama from choosing a replacement during his last year in office.
Scalia, who died of natural causes Saturday morning, was "one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court," President Obama said.
"I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time," Obama said. "There will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote."
Obama urged the GOP leaders in the senate to put partisan politics aside because the Supreme Court nominations "are bigger than any one party, they are about our democracy" and a full court is needed for it "to continue to function as the beacon of justice our founders envisioned."
Republican leaders in the senate, along with several senators now running for president, have suggested that Obama should be blocked from choosing the replacement for the conservative Scalia. Instead, it should be left for the next president to pick a nominee.
However, delaying the nomination process a year would likely mean the High Court would not have the full nine members to make decisions until mid to late 2017.