The unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, in the middle of a presidential election, set of a political firestorm. Senate Republicans have refused even to consider any replacement nominated by President Obama.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement shortly after the sad news broke.
Meanwhile, Obama accused Senate Republicans of giving in to election-year politics instead of focusing on their constitutional duty.
“Well, the Constitution says that I nominate candidates for the Supreme Court when there’s a vacancy, and that the Senate exercises its constitutional role in advise and consent,” Obama told reporters. “I’m going to do my job.”
It’s a feud fit for your favorite pop star’s Twitter account. But what is the Supreme Court? How does someone become a justice? And why is this particular nomination so important? Let’s break it down.