Republicans nationally want to stall the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice following the passing of Justice Anton Scalia, the most conservative judge on the court (perhaps save Clarence Thomas who has done nothing but follow Scalia, possessing no legal mind of his own). Donald Trump loudly proclaimed the GOP strategy yesterday – Trump now the defacto head of the Republican Party and informal spokesperson for it (despite the RNC’s efforts to discredit him) has articulated the party’s strategy loudly and clearly. Stall for eleven months.
Ironically Republican in Florida fearful of the opposite scenario playing out, pushed constitutional changes in 2014 that would give the outgoing Governor beginning in 2018 (in this case Rick Scott) additional powers to appoint Justices since three left-leaning Justices will hit mandatory retirement in January 2019. In the past appointments after elections and before the new Governor assumed office were made jointly – the case of Justice Peggy Quince nominated in 1998 as a joint appointment between outgoing Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat and incoming Gov. Jeb Bush a Republican stands as a model.
In any event, the proposed constitutional change failed at the ballot box in 2014 even though it had passed the legislature in a straight-party vote. But it shows the hypocrisy of Republican thinking that they should stall for almost a full year a constitutionally mandated appointment (as happened at the end of Lyndon Johnson Presidency when he bungled his attempts to put liberals on the court – Abe Fortas as Chief Justice and presumably an equally liberal Associate Justice to replace Fortas. It was bottled up and the appointments fell to Richard Nixon which began the reshaping of the court into the 1970’s) yet on the state level take the opposite approach.